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Boys Don't Cry Reviews

A harrowing dramatization of the final days of 21-year-old Nebraskan Brandon Teena, whose short life ended in brutal rape and multiple murder. Shortly before his 21st birthday, Brandon Teena (Hilary Swank) blows into nowhere town Falls City, NE, bearing little more than a rap sheet and a way with the ladies. Brandon falls in with a rough crowd: volatile ex-con John (Peter Sarsgaard), Jim's buddy Tom (Brendan Sexton III) and Jim's troubled childhood friend Lana (Chloe Sevigny). Kicks in Grand Falls are scarce — getting high, "bumper-skiing" (clinging by a rope to the bumper of a reeling pick-up truck) and hanging out — but Brandon is smitten with Lana and sticks around. Lana falls hard for the tender, considerate Brandon, but there's something she doesn't realize, even after they have sex; Brandon Teena, born Teena Brandon, is really a woman. Once the truth is known, Brandon's dream world, a place where gender is open to interpretation, comes to a sudden, savage end. Since his 1993 death, Brandon Teena has become a flash point for academics and the subject of a perceptive 1997 documentary, THE BRANDON TEENA STORY, which offers keen insight into the culture in which Brandon died. Director Kimberly Peirce is more interested in emotional drama, the rush of an audacious, often reckless life lived on the edge and on the run. Swank's nuanced performance is remarkable and it's a powerful film. But Peirce's quest for some truth underlying this bewildering tale of lies, dissociation and deception leads her to fabricate a version of events that distorts what's known about the case; she even elides completely the death of a second witness to Brandon's demise. The result is a flawed but compelling cinematic corollary to Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song or Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, non-fiction fiction but with an emphasis on the latter.