Boys Don’t Cry

A true story about finding the courage to be yourself.

Premiered: September 2nd, 1999 at Venice Film Festival, in U.S. theaters March 31st, 2000
Directed by: Kimberly Peirce
Genre: Drama, Biography
MPAA Motion Picture Rating: Rated R for violence including an intense brutal rape scene, sexuality, language and drug use

Cast:

Hilary Swank … as Brandon Teena
Chloë Sevigny … as Lana Tisdel
Peter Sarsgaard … as John Lotter
Brendan Sexton III … as Tom Nissen
Alicia Goranson … as Candace
Alison Folland … as Kate
Jeannetta Arnette … as Lana’s Mom
Rob Campbell … as Brian
Matt McGrath … as Lonny
Cheyenne Rushing … as Nicole
Robert Prentiss … as Trucker
Josh Ridgway … as Kwik Stop Cashier
Craig Erickson … as Trucker in Kwik Stop
Stephanie Sechrist … as April
Jerry Haynes … as Judge

Status: Out on DVD, Blu-Ray & VOD.

Overview
Memorable Lana Quotations
Said of Boys Don’t Cry
Boys Don’t Cry Trivia
Critical Reception
Boys Don’t Cry Online


Spoiler Warning: Please be advised that this page is meant to be a comprehensive overview of a movie and is likely to contain critical spoilers as to the various story-wise outcomes. If you’d like to remain spoiler-free as to what happens in the movie in question, we suggest you not read any further.

Content Warning: Please note that Chloë Sevigny has appeared in many R-rated movies which contain material unsuitable for young or sensitive audiences due to their mature, violent, frightening or otherwise graphic footage or content. If you are sensitive to this kind of content, some material presented on our site, such as screen caps and video clips from the movie itself, may not be suitable for you.


More photos in our Boys Don’t Cry gallery


Overview

From Internet Movie Database:

Brandon Teena is the popular new guy in a tiny Nebraska town. He hangs out with the guys, drinking, cussing, and bumper surfing, and he charms the young women, who’ve never met a more sensitive and considerate young man. Life is good for Brandon, now that he’s one of the guys and dating hometown beauty Lana; however, he’s forgotten to mention one important detail. It’s not that he’s wanted in another town for GTA and other assorted crimes, but that Brandon Teena was actually born a woman named Teena Brandon. When his best friends make this discovery, Brandon’s life is ripped apart.

Chloë Sevigny portrays Lana Tisdel, Brandon’s girlfriend with a dysfunctional family, and one of the few people in Brandon’s life to accept him for who he is.


Memorable Lana Quotations

Brandon: “Lana, you are one cranky girl.”
Lana: “Yeah, well, you’d be cranky, too, Mister I’m Going To Memphis Graceland Tennessee, if you were stuck in a town where there’s nothing to do but go bumper skiing and chase bats every night of your evil fucking life.”

Lana: “God, I hate my life.”
Lana’s Mom: [lying drunk on the sofa] “Lana?”
Brandon: “I hate your life, too.”

Lana: “I mean, you don’t have to be sober to weigh spinach.”

Lana: “Shut up. That’s your business. Look, I don’t care if you’re half monkey or half ape, I’m gettin’ you out of here.”


Said of Boys Don’t Cry

Select quotations regarding the film from Chloë Sevigny and her co-workers:

Quotations coming soon/not available.


Boys Don’t Cry Trivia

Boys Don’t Cry is based on the real life story of pre-op transgender male Brandon Teena who was raped and murdered by two male acquaintances in December 1993.

• To prepare for the role of Brandon Teena, Hilary Swank lived as a man for more than a month. She would among other things wrap her chest in tension bandages and put socks down the front of her pants, much in the same way Brandon Teena did. The act was so convincing that her neighbors actually believed that the “young man” coming and going from Swank’s home was a visiting brother of hers.

• The film’s working title was Take It Like a Man.

• Hilary Swank landed the lead role of Brandon after hundreds of other actresses had been considered and rejected over the course of three years. Swank told director Kimberly Peirce that, like her character, she was also 21 and came from Lincoln, Nebraska. While that was not true, when Pierce later confronted her about lying, Swank would respond, “But that’s what Brandon would do.”

• Chloë Sevigny alongside actresses Alicia Goranson and Alison Folland all originally auditioned for the role of Brandon Teena.

• Prior to the film’s release, the real Lana Tisdel sued the producers for invasion of privacy and the unauthorized use of her name and likeness. According to Tisdel’s claims, the film portrayed her as “lazy, white trash and a skanky snake” and falsely depicted that she continued her relationship with Brandon after she discovered he was anatomically female. The case was eventually settled out of court for an undisclosed sum of money.

• Due to its graphic rape and sex scenes, Boys Don’t Cry was initially assigned an NC-17 rating by the MPAA. To avoid the undesired rating, the material was heavily edited for the U.S. release, and the edited cut was ultimately rated R for “violence including an intense brutal rape scene, nudity, sexual content, language and drug use”.

• Hilary Swank received criticism from the family of Brandon Teena for her repeated use of the male-gendered pronoun ‘he’ in her Oscar acceptance speech. Brandon’s mother argued that her son’s transgenderism was a defense mechanism that was developed in response to childhood sexual abuse, rather than being an expression of his gendered sense of self: “She pretended she was a man so no other man could touch her.” Swank later apologized, but many transgender activists asserted that she was correct in referring to Brandon as a man, as this was the gender in which he preferred to live and act.


Critical Reception

Boys Don’t Cry received a limited theatrical release in the States in October 1999 after a string of successful U.S. and international film festival screenings, after which the film was released theatrically worldwide over the course of the winter and spring. Despite the many controversies sparked by the film, critiques have been almost overwhelmingly positive and the film has received much critical acclaim both nationally and internationally, including a Golden Globe and Oscar for star Hilary Swank and respective nominations for co-star Chloë Sevigny.

Rating: Internet Movie Database: 7.6/10 with c. 75,900 user votes counted
Rating: MetaCritic: 86/100 metascore, “Universal acclaim”
Rating: Rotten Tomatoes: 89% positive reviews (“Fresh”)

Extracts from professional movie reviews:

“Hilary Swank should be a lock for an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her subtle, strong, yet vulnerable portrayal of Brandon Teena (née Teena Brandon), the true-life female who attempted to pass herself off as male in a small Nebraska town, where she ended up falling for another lost soul (Chloë Sevigny, every bit as good as Swank). Brandon’s secret eventually comes out, but the shock is not in the (inevitable) tragic ending, but the devastating emotional effect director-co-scripter (with Andy Bienen) Kimberly Peirce is able to achieve through mere nuance. Swank and Sevigny are both talented, effortlessly likable performers, but it isn’t until the close that one realizes just how deeply one has grown to care for the vivid, sympathetic human beings–as opposed to mere characters–they have brought to life.”
– Michael Dequina, Mr. Brown’s Movies

“Upping the ante is Brandon’s love-at-first-sight crush on Lana (played with haunting immediacy by the versatile Chloe Sevigny), a teenager with a sick-of-it-all attitude who is romantically connected to John but whom Brandon immediately covets. Swank and director Pierce are especially good at creating empathy for Brandon, even when he acts with such utter foolishness he doesn’t deserve it, and that concern for character, that refusal to typecast, refreshingly extends to John and Tom, who turn out to be an increasing unstable and violent pair of ex-cons. […] One thing Boys Don’t Cry doesn’t do is soft-pedal the painful and horrifying aspects of Brendan’s story; we share his lacerating journey right to its dark end. Unlike scenarios that play at disturbance, this film, especially in its graphic and devastating rape scene, is genuinely hard to take.”
– Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“The supporting actors are more than capable. Chloë Sevigny (The Last Days of Disco) plays Lana, an affection-starved young woman with such a low sense of self-esteem that she deludes herself into believing that Brandon is actually a man, even after a sexual encounter. Sevigny’s performance is more conventional than Swank’s, but no less effective. She provides the counterbalance to the tide of hatred that drowns the last act of the film.”
– James Berardinelli, ReelViews

Awards & Nominations

Boys Don’t Cry has received 48 awards and 37 award nominations.

Won:

• Academy Award (2000): Best Actress in a Leading Role (Hilary Swank)
• Awards Circuit Community Award, 2nd place (1999): Best Actress in a Leading Role (Hilary Swank)
• Boston Society of Film Critics Award (1999): Best Actress (Hilary Swank)
• Boston Society of Film Critics Award (1999): Best New Filmmaker (Kimberly Peirce)
• Boston Society of Film Critics Award (1999): Best Supporting Actress (Chloë Sevigny)
• Broadcast Film Critics Association Award (2000): Best Actress (Hilary Swank)
• Chicago Film Critics Association Award (2000): Best Actress (Hilary Swank)
• Chicago Film Critics Association Award (2000): Best Supporting Actress (Chloë Sevigny)
• Chicago International Film Festival Silver Hugo (1999): Best Actress (Hilary Swank)
• Chlotrudis Award (2000): Best Actress (Hilary Swank)
• Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award (2000): Best Actress (Hilary Swank)
• Florida Film Critics Circle Award (2000): Best Actress (Hilary Swank)
• Gijón International Film Festival Award (1999): Best Actress (Hilary Swank)
• Golden Globe (2000): Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama (Hilary Swank)
• Golden Satellite Award (2000): Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama (Hilary Swank)
• Golden Satellite Award (2000): Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Drama (Chloë Sevigny)
• Independent Spirit Award (2000): Best Female Lead (Hilary Swank)
• Independent Spirit Award (2000): Best Supporting Female (Chloë Sevigny)
• Las Vegas Film Critics Society Sierra Award (2000): Best Actress (Hilary Swank)
• Las Vegas Film Critics Society Sierra Award (2000): Best Director (Kimberly Peirce)
• Las Vegas Film Critics Society Sierra Award (2000): Best Screenplay, Adapted
• Las Vegas Film Critics Society Sierra Award (2000): Best Supporting Actress (Chloë Sevigny)
• Las Vegas Film Critics Society Sierra Award (2000): Most Promising Actress (Hilary Swank)
• London Film Festival FIPRESCI Prize (1999) (Kimberly Peirce)

• London Film Festival Satyajit Ray Award (1999) (Kimberly Peirce)
• Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award (1999): Best Actress (Hilary Swank)
• Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award (1999): Best Supporting Actress (Chloë Sevigny)
• Molodist International Film Festival Diploma (2000): Best Full-Length Fiction Film
• National Board of Review Award (1999): Breakthrough Performance – Female (Hilary Swank)
• National Board of Review Award (1999): Outstanding Directorial Debut (Kimberly Peirce)
• National Board of Review Award (1999): Top Ten Films
• National Society of Film Critics Award (2000): Best Supporting Actress (Chloë Sevigny)
• National Society of Film Critics Award, 2nd place (2000): Best Actress (Hilary Swank)
• New York Film Critics Circle Award (1999): Best Actress (Hilary Swank)
• New York Film Critics Circle Award, 2nd place (1999): Best First Film (Kimberly Peirce)
• New York Film Critics Circle Award, 2nd place (1999): Best Supporting Actress (Chloë Sevigny)
• Online Film & Television Association Film Award (2000): Best Actress (Hilary Swank)
• Political Film Society Award (2000): Exposé
• Santa Fe Film Critics Circle Award (2000): Best Actress (Hilary Swank)
• Southeastern Film Critics Association Award (2000): Best Actress (Hilary Swank)
• Southeastern Film Critics Association Award, 2nd place (2000): Best Supporting Actress (Chloë Sevigny)
• St. Louis International Film Festival Audience Choice Award (2000) (Kimberly Peirce)
• Stockholm Film Festival Award (1999): Best Actress (Hilary Swank)
• Stockholm Film Festival Award (1999): Best Screenplay
• Stockholm Film Festival FIPRESCI Prize (1999)
• Stockholm Film Festival Audience Award (2000) (Kimberly Peirce)
• Toronto Film Critics Association Award (1999): Best Performance, Female (Hilary Swank)
• Verzaubert – International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival Rosebud (1999): Best Film
• Village Voice Film Poll (1999): Best Performance (Hilary Swank)
• Village Voice Film Poll (1999): Best Supporting Performance (Chloë Sevigny)
• Young Hollywood Award (2000): Best Director (Kimberly Peirce)
• Young Hollywood Award (2000): Best Screenwriter

Nominated:

• Academy Award (2000): Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Chloë Sevigny)
• BAFTA Film Award (2001): Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Hilary Swank)
• Chlotrudis Award (2000): Best Director (Kimbery Peirce)
• Chlotrudis Award (2000): Best Movie
• Chlotrudis Award (2000): Best Supporting Actress (Chloë Sevigny)
• Empire Award (2001): Best Actress (Hilary Swank)
• European Film Awards Screen International Award (1999) (Kimberly Peirce)
• Gijón International Film Festival Grand Prix Asturias (1999): Best Feature
• GLAAD Media Award (2000): Outstanding Film (Limited Release)
• Golden Globe (2000): Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Chloë Sevigny)
• Golden Satellite Award (2000): Best Director (Kimberly Peirce)
• Golden Satellite Award (2000): Best Motion Picture, Drama
• Guldbagge Award (2001): Best Foreign Film (Bästa utländska film)
• Independent Spirit Award (2000): Best First Feature – Over $500,000
• Independent Spirit Award (2000): Best First Screenplay
• Independent Spirit Producers Award (2000)
• Las Vegas Film Critics Society Sierra Award (2000): Best Picture
• London Critics Circle Film Award (2001): Actress of the Year (Hilary Swank)
• MTV Movie Award (2000): Breakthrough Female Performance (Hilary Swank)
• MTV Movie Award (2000): Best Kiss (Hilary Swank & Chloë Sevigny)
• Online Film & Television Association Film Award (2000): Best First Feature (Kimberly Peirce)
• Online Film & Television Association Film Award (2000): Best First Screenplay
• Online Film & Television Association Film Award (2000): Best Supporting Actress (Chloë Sevigny)
• Online Film Critics Society Award (2000): Best Actress (Hilary Swank)
• Online Film Critics Society Award (2000): Best Supporting Actress (Chloë Sevigny)
• Robert Festival Robert Award (2001): Best American Film (Årets amerikanske film)
• Screen Actors Guild Award (2000): Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role (Hilary Swank)
• Screen Actors Guild Award (2000): Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role (Chloë Sevigny)
• Southeastern Film Critics Association Award (2000): Best Picture
• Stockholm Film Festival Bronze Horse (1999)
• Teen Choice Award (2000): Film – Choice Breakout Performance (Hilary Swank)
• Village Voice Film Poll (1999): Best Film

Chloë Sevigny Online

Please note that the opinions expressed below are all 100% our own, not those of Chloë Sevigny or anyone affiliated with either her or the rest of the cast or crew.

Boys Don’t Cry is not only an excellent film, but an extremely important one, because it highlights the reality trans people face every day. Although it came out at a time when trans rights were discussed mainly behind closed doors in hushed and disapproving voices, the film carries almost as much weight today as it did before. The atmosphere may now allow a more open and vocal discussion around trans issues, but the points of argument and disagreement remain the same — as does the persecution that follows trans people wherever they go still today. Watching this film in today’s environment is a sober reminder of how much things have remained the same despite seeming progress. Trans people are still forced to fight for their right to self-determination, gender roles are still forced on people as far up as the legislative level, and trans people continue to be popular subjects of jeering, disdain, death-threats — and even murder. And this just in America. It is quite honestly not unlikely that, if Brandon Teena lived still today, he would suffer the same fate he did in 1993. It is an upsetting conclusion to come to still in 2016.

I won’t go into how I feel about the film itself — everything that can be said about it has already been said by everyone, everywhere. Suffice to say that both Hilary Swank, Chloë Sevigny and director Kimberly Peirce deserve every ounce of recognition they have received, and if you are a fan of Chloë, this is the must-watch of her career. -Admin

Our rating of the movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Our rating of Chloë’s performance: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Boys Don’t Cry Online

Below are some Boys Don’t Cry-related links that may be of interest to you.

Boys Don’t Cry official site
Boys Don’t Cry on IMDb.com
Boys Don’t Cry on MetaCritic.com
Boys Don’t Cry on RottenTomatoes.com
Boys Don’t Cry on Wikipedia.org

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