Boys Don't Cry (film): Wikis

  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Boys Don't Cry

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Kimberly Peirce
Produced by Christine Vachon
Eva Kolodner
Written by Kimberly Peirce
Andy Bienen
Starring Hilary Swank
Chloë Sevigny
Peter Sarsgaard
Brendan Sexton III
Alicia Goranson
Jeannetta Arnette
Matt McGrath
Music by Nathan Larson
Cinematography Jim Denault
Editing by Tracy Granger
Studio IFC Films
Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release date(s) October 8, 1999 (New York)
October 22, 1999 (limited)
Running time 118 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2 million
Gross revenue $11,533,945

Boys Don't Cry is a 1999 American independent drama film based on the real-life story of Brandon Teena, a transgender man who was raped and murdered on December 31, 1993 by his male friends after they found out he had female genitalia. The film features Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena and Chloë Sevigny as Brandon's girlfriend, Lana Tisdel.

Boys Don’t Cry received overwhelmingly positive acclaim from critics, especially the two lead performances from Swank and Sevigny, and considering its reasonably low budget, and independent production, it was a box office success, with most of the success coming from word of mouth and critical views. Swank was awarded the 1999 Academy Award for Best Actress, and Sevigny was nominated for the Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress.

The film is set in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Falls City, Nebraska, but was mainly filmed in Greenville, Texas, a small town about 45 miles northeast of Dallas. Its release was concurrent with the murder of a young gay man, Matthew Shepard, which sparked additional public interest in the film.[1] The film's title, Boys Don't Cry, coincides with a song of the same name by The Cure.

Contents

Plot

Brandon Teena (Hilary Swank) was a female-to-male pre-operative transsexual. His birth name was Teena Renae Brandon.

One day, after receiving physical threats for dating a person's sister, and involvement in a bar fight, Brandon is evicted by his cousin from the trailer they shared. Brandon moves to Falls City, Nebraska where he cultivates friendships with ex-convicts John Lotter (Peter Sarsgaard) and Tom Nissen (Brendan Sexton III), and their friends Candace (Alicia Goranson) and Lana (Chloë Sevigny). Brandon becomes romantically involved with Lana, who is unaware of his situation.

Brandon is detained for charges that arose prior to his relocation and placed in the women’s section of the Falls City prison. Lana bails Brandon out. After inquiring why Teena was in a woman’s prison, Brandon lies to Lana saying he was born a hermaphrodite and will soon receive a sex change. Lana declares her love for Brandon, "no matter what he is."

Lotter, Nissen, and Candace discover Brandon has female genitalia and tell Lana after forcing him to remove his pants. Later, Nissen and Lotter chase Brandon, then beat and violently rape him in an isolated lot near a meat-processing plant. Afterward, they take Brandon to Nissen's house. Though injured, Brandon escapes through a bathroom window. Having been threatened by his assailants not to report the attack to the police, a distressed Brandon is nonetheless convinced by Lana to file a report. All the while, Lana and Brandon dream of a life together plan to escape and go to Nashville.

One evening, Nissen and Lotter get drunk, and despite Lana's warnings, decide to kill Brandon, who is hiding in a shed on Candace's property. Lotter and Nissen drive to Candace's remote house, accompanied by a frantic Lana; Lotter shoots Brandon under his chin while inside the house, and Nissen shoots Candace in the head while Lana fights and screams for them to stop. Nissen stabs Brandon's lifeless body and attempts to shoot Lana, but misses. Lotter and Nissen flee the scene, while Lana lies with Brandon's dead body.

The next morning, Lana wakes up on Brandon's dead body, then falls into her mother's arms. The film ends with Lana leaving Falls City while a letter Brandon wrote her is read in a voice-over.

Cast

Background

Sevigny initially auditioned for the role of Brandon, however Peirce decided she would be better suited as Lana, and Katherine Moennig auditioned for Brandon's role. Swank eventually signed onto the project as the lead. Hundreds of other actresses had been considered and rejected over the course of three years. She told director Kimberly Peirce that, like her character, she was also 21 and came from Lincoln, Nebraska. But she was lying, and when Peirce later confronted her with the lies, she responded, "But that's what Brandon would do." Swank prepared for the role by living life as a man for at least a month, including wrapping her chest in tension bandages and putting socks down the front of her pants in much the same way that Brandon Teena did. When Swank was living as a man to prepare for the role of Brandon Teena, she was so convincing that her neighbors believed that the young man (Swank in male character) coming and going from Swank's home was her visiting brother.

Diane Keaton had considered directing, with Drew Barrymore in the lead role. Kimberly Peirce first came across the story when reading a long article in The Village Voice written by Donna Minkowitz which was published a few months after the murder. Peirce said that she used the same shots in the opening roller rink scene that were used in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy first left her house and entered the land of Oz.

The title of the film is taken from a song by The Cure. A cover of the song also plays in the background at one point.

Response

Boys Don’t Cry drew immense critical acclaim in 1999, and managed to be a moderate box office success, despite being independently financed and a relatively low budget production ($2 million) - mainly because of word-of-mouth. It also became a huge success through sales and rentals in 2000. Film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times listed it as one of his five best films of 1999, stating "This could have been a clinical Movie of the Week, but instead it's a sad song about a free spirit who tried to fly a little too close to the flame"[2] while Janet Maslin of The New York Times called it "stunning", giving it four out of four stars.[3]

Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a "certified fresh" rating of 89% based on 73 reviews.[4]

Premiere voted this movie as one of "The 25 Most Dangerous Movies".[5]

Controversy

Major details of the actual rape and murder of Brandon Teena were changed in the film version. Most notably, the film portrays a double murder, when in actuality, three people were murdered. Philip DeVine, 19, Leslie Lambert's (Lisa's sister) boyfriend, was shot to death on a couch; he was completely absent from the film. Lisa Lambert, 24, simply named Candace in the movie, was found dead with Brandon. The survivor at the murder house was a boy, not a girl.

Lana Tisdel sued the film's producers for invasion of privacy and the unauthorized use of her name and likeness before the film's release. She claimed that the film depicted her as "lazy, white trash and a skanky snake". Tisdel also claimed that the film falsely portrayed that she continued the relationship with Teena after she discovered Teena was anatomically and biologically female. She eventually settled her lawsuit against the movie's distributor, Fox Searchlight for an undisclosed sum.[6][7]

Along with the portrayal of the actual ordeal and the people involved, Boys Don't Cry garnered significant controversy for its graphic rape scene. Initially assigned with an NC-17 rating from the MPAA, the content was strongly toned down for the US release, which was rated R for violence including an intense brutal rape scene, sexual content, language, and drug use.

The director of Boys Don't Cry, Kimberly Pierce, was interviewed for the documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated about the trouble the film had with the MPAA. The double rape caused some big problems with the MPAA and had to be trimmed to avoid an NC-17 rating. The European version is more explicit (especially with the first rape). Kimberly also showed anger over the fact the MPAA wanted the lesbian sex scene removed but were alright with the violence and murder scenes.

Swank received criticism from the family of Brandon Teena for her repeated use of the male-gendered pronoun 'he' in her Oscar acceptance speech. Teena's mother argued that her daughter'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."[8] Swank later apologized, but many transgender activists asserted that she was correct in referring to Teena as a man, as this was the gender in which he preferred to live and act. In an interview, Swank said in relation to her performance in Boys Don't Cry that "I don't think there is anything more challenging than playing someone of the opposite sex."

Soundtrack

The soundtrack was released on November 11, 1999 by Koch Records.

  1. "The Bluest Eyes in Texas" - Nina Persson and Nathan Larson
  2. "A New Shade of Blue" - The Bobby Fuller Four
  3. "She's Got a Way" - The Smithereens
  4. "Who's That Lady?" - The Isley Brothers
  5. "Codine Blues" - The Charlatans
  6. "Silver Wings" - The Knitters
  7. "Who Do You Love" - Quicksilver Messenger Service
  8. "Tuesday's Gone" - Lynyrd Skynyrd
  9. "Haunt" - Roky Erickson
  10. "Dustless Highway" - Nathan Larson
  11. "What's Up With That?" - The Dictators
  12. "Why Can't We Live Together?" - Timmy Thomas

Awards and nominations

The film won 40 awards and was nominated for 27 other awards. The majority wins went to Swank's role.

Academy Awards:
  • Won: Best Actress in a Leading Role (Hilary Swank)
  • Nominated: Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Chloë Sevigny)
Golden Globe Awards:
  • Won: Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama (Hilary Swank)
  • Nominated: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Chloë Sevigny)
BAFTA Awards:
  • Nominated: Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Hilary Swank)
National Board of Review:
  • Won: Breakthrough Performance - Female (Hilary Swank)
  • Won: Outstanding Directorial Debut (Kimberly Peirce)
Satellite Awards:
  • Won: Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama (Hilary Swank)
  • Won: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role - Drama (Chloë Sevigny)
  • Nominated: Best Picture - Drama
  • Nominated: Best Director (Kimberly Peirce)

See also

References

External links


Boys Don't Cry
File:Boys Don'
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Kimberly Peirce
Produced by Christine Vachon
Eva Kolodner
Written by Kimberly Peirce
Andy Bienen
Starring Hilary Swank
Chloë Sevigny
Peter Sarsgaard
Music by Nathan Larson
Cinematography Jim Denault
Editing by Tracy Granger
Studio IFC Films
Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release date(s) October 8, 1999 (NY)
October 22, 1999 (Limited)
Running time 118 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2 million
Gross revenue $11,533,945

Boys Don't Cry is a 1999 American independent drama film directed by Kimberly Peirce and co-written by Andy Bienen. Based on the real-life story of Brandon Teena, the film stars Hilary Swank as a transgender man who pursues a relationship with a young woman, played by Chloë Sevigny—only to be raped and murdered weeks later by male acquaintances after they discover Teena is biologically female. Although based on a true story, the film is dramatized and explores the themes of freedom, courage, identity and empowerment. The film was distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures and was released theatrically in October 1999.

After reading about the murder of Brandon Teena while in college, Peirce researched the case—as well as Teena's life—intently and worked on a screenplay for the film for almost five years. The shooting screenplay departs significantly from the 1993 book about the case All She Wanted, written by Aphrodite Jones. Jones' book inspired the overall concept of a film about Teena's life however Peirce chose to film her vision of the story rather than the information given in the book, by strengthening the relationship between Tisdel and Teena. Many actors campaigned for the lead over a course of three years; however the then unknown Swank was cast because of her likeness to Brandon's personality. The film also stars Peter Sarsgaard, Brendan Sexton III, Alicia Goranson, Jeannetta Arnette and Matt McGrath. The characters were based on real-life people, while some were composites. Shooting lasted from October until November 1998 and filming took place in various locations throughout Texas.

Boys Don't Cry premiered at the New York Film Festival on October 8, 1999 to overwhelmingly positive acclaim from critics. Praise was generally focused toward the two lead performances from Swank and Sevigny. The film received a limited nationwide release on October 22, 1999 and performed moderately well at the North American box office. At the 72nd Academy Awards in 2000, Swank was awarded an Oscar for Best Actress, while Sevigny was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. In contrast to Boys Don't Cry's positive reception, the film has also been cited as one of the most controversial and talked-about films of 1999, initially being assigned with an NC-17 rating, later modified to an R rating. Boys Don't Cry's release was concurrent with the murder of a young gay man, Matthew Shepard, which sparked additional public interest in the film.[1] The film's title was named after the song of the same name by The Cure, with a cover version of the song appearing in the film at one point.

Contents

Plot

Brandon Teena (Hilary Swank) is a young female-to-male pre-operative transsexual, whose birth name was Teena Renae Brandon. When Brandon is discovered to be biologically female by the brother of a woman he once dated, he becomes the target of physical threats. Not long after, he is involved in a bar fight and then evicted from his cousin's trailer. Brandon moves to Falls City, Nebraska where he cultivates friendships with ex-convicts John Lotter (Peter Sarsgaard) and Tom Nissen (Brendan Sexton III), and their friends Candace (Alicia Goranson) and Lana (Chloë Sevigny). Brandon becomes romantically involved with Lana, who is unaware of his biological sex and troubled past. The two make plans to move to Memphis, where Brandon will manage Lana in a karaoke career.

Brandon is detained for charges that arose prior to his relocation and placed in the women’s section of the Falls City prison. Lana bails Brandon out. After Lana asks why Brandon was in a woman’s prison, Brandon lies to her, saying he was born a hermaphrodite and will soon receive a sex change. Lana declares her love for Brandon, "no matter what he is." Tom and John become suspicious after they read a newspaper article about Brandon, which refers to him by his birth name, Teena Brandon. Tom, John and Candace force Brandon to remove his pants, revealing his genitalia. They try to make Lana look, but she shields her eyes and turns away. After this confrontation Tom and John chase Brandon, then beat and rape him in an isolated location near a meat-processing plant. Afterward, they take Brandon to Nissen's house. Though injured, Brandon escapes through a bathroom window. Having been threatened by his assailants not to report the attack to the police, a distressed Brandon is nonetheless convinced by Lana to file a report.

One evening, John and Tom get drunk, and decide to kill Brandon. Despite Lana's attempts to stop them, they go to find Brandon, who has been hiding in a shed on Candace's property. John and Tom drive to Candace's remote house, accompanied by a frantic Lana. John shoots Brandon under the chin, and Tom shoots Candace in the head while Lana fights and screams for them to stop. Tom stabs Brandon's lifeless body and attempts to shoot Lana, but is stopped by John. John and Tom flee the scene, while Lana lies with Brandon's dead body.

The next morning, Lana wakes up on Brandon's dead body. Her mother then arrives and takes an emotionally wrenched Lana away from the scene. The film ends with Lana leaving Falls City while a letter Brandon wrote her is read in a voice-over.

Production

Background

Brandon Teena was a trans man who was raped and murdered by two male acquaintances in December 1993, aged 21.[nb 1][2][3][4] Kimberly Peirce, at the time a Columbia University film student, became interested in the case after reading a 1994 The Village Voice article by Donna Minkowitz.[5][6] Peirce became engrossed in Teena's life and death and recalls; "the minute I read about Brandon, I fell in love. With the intensity of her desire to turn herself into a boy, the fact that she did it with no role models. The leap of imagination that this person took was completely overwhelming to me."[7] The sensational publicity and coverage generated by the case prolonged her attentiveness.[5] Peirce stated she looked beyond the brutality of the case and instead viewed the positive aspects of Teena's life as hopeful and full of goodwill: admiring Teena's "audacity", compassion, free spirit and passionate "generosity" toward women.[8][nb 2]

Peirce had wanted to tell the story from Teena's perspective as she felt there was an inspirational, tragic story about the ordeal itself, different to the one presented to the public. Peirce wanted to use the film as an opportunity to present Teena's outright search for freedom rather than capatalize on his sexual identity crisis, having felt familiarity with Teena's desire to cross-dress: "I started looking at all the other coverage and a great deal of it was sensational. People were focusing on the spectacle of a girl who had passed as a boy because that is so unfamiliar to so many people. Where to me, I knew girls who had passed as boys, so Brandon was not some weird person to me. Brandon was a very familiar person."[9] Pierce had been affected by the public perception of the case, believing the American public were generally mis-informed: "People were also focusing on the crime without giving it much emotional understanding and I think that's really dangerous, especially with this culture of violence that we live in."[9] Peirce subsequently began working on the concept of the film and gave it the working title Take It Like a Man.

The project drew interest from various production bodies. Diane Keaton's production company had shown interest in the screenplay, with Drew Barrymore an early candidate to star in the mid 1990s. At the time the film was to be largely based on Aphrodite Jones' 1993 book All She Wanted, a true crime book about Teena's final few weeks alive.[10] The screenplay was subsequently modified and became more of Pierce's vision, who chose to focus a vast majority of the film on the relationship between Teena and girlfriend Lana Tisdel,[11] leading up to Teena's eventual murder rather than focusing on her early life and background, believing that there was a "great love story" at the center of the case.[5] In order to fund the writing and development of the feature, Peirce worked as a paralegal on a midnight shift, as a 35mm film projectionist and received a New York Foundation for the Arts grant.[12] She co-wrote the screenplay with Andy Bienen, which attracted the attention of producer Christine Vachon, who had seen Peirce's short film she had made for her thesis in 1995.[7] Peirce and Bienen worked with together for a year and a half on the final drafts and made sure they didn't "mythologize" Brandon, with the aim to keep him as human as possible.

Prior to filming, Peirce conducted extensive research into the case and had amassed herself with extensive information regarding the murder, including trial transcripts and meeting Lana Tisdel at a Quick Stop store and subsequently interviewing her with a video camera at her home. Peirce also interviewed Tisdel's mother and family and friends of Teena, however failed to interview Teena's mother or any of her biological family.[5][9] Much of the information used was factual and this incorporated into the film; including Nissen being an arsonist and the games of chicken and joy riding that were a common pastime in Falls City by the real Lotter, Nissen and Teena at the time.

Casting

The filmmakers retained the names of most of the real-life protagonists, though several supporting characters were given different names, including Candance's character, who in real life was named Lisa Lambert. The casting process for Boys Don't Cry was extensive and lasted for almost four years.[13] Peirce had scouted the LGBT community, looking mainly for masculine lesbian women for the role of 21-year-old transgendered Brandon Teena. The interest from the LGBT was overwhelming due to the extent of publicity the case had received.[5] High profile actors were not sent to auditons at the request of their agents because of stigma accossiated with the role and the project was almost abandoned because of Peirce's unsatisfaction with most whom auditioned.[14] In 1996, after a hundred actresses had been considered and ultimately rejected, a then un-known Hilary Swank sent a videotape to Peirce and signed onto the project.[5][15] During her audition, Swank lied to director Kimberly Peirce, claiming that, like Brandon, she was also 21 and came from Lincoln, Nebraska. When Peirce later confronted her with the lies, Swank responded, "But that's what Brandon would do."[16] Swank's anonymity as an actress persuaded Peirce to cast her. Perice had expressed that she did not want a "known actor" to portray Teena.[17]

Swank underwent significant preparation for the role by dressing and living as a man for at least a month, including wrapping her chest in tension bandages and putting socks down the front of her pants in much the same way that Brandon Teena had done. Her masquerade became particularly convincing. Swank's neighbors believed that the young man, Swank in male character, coming and going from her home was Swank's visiting brother. In addition, she reduced her body fat to seven percent in preparation to excentuate her facial structure and refused to let the cast and crew see her out of costume.[17][18] Swank earned only $75 per day for her work on Boys Don't Cry, culminating in a total of $3,000.[19][20][21] Her earnings were so low, that she had not even earned enough to qualify for health insurance.[22]

Peirce had envisioned only two actors for the role of Lana Tisdel, Teena's 19-year-old girlfriend. A younger Jodie Foster and Chloë Sevigny, the later, who had prior credits in mostly independent films. Peirce had decided to cast Sevigny based on her performance The Last Days of Disco (1998), which she was impressed by.[23] Sevigny had auditioned for the role of Brandon,[24] however Peirce decided that Sevigny would be suited playing Tisdel instead.[25][26] Sevigny dyed her hair red for the role, matching the real Lana's strawberry blonde hair. Peirce later said of Sevigny: "Chloë just surrendered to the part. She watched videos of Lana. She just became her very naturally. She's not one of those Hollywood actresses who diets and gets plastic surgery. You never catch her acting". Peter Sarsgaard, who plays John Lotter, the charasmatic former boyfriend of Lana's and the man responsible for Teena's rape and murder. Sarsgaard was one of the first choices for the role. He later commented on the portrayal in regards to his character as being "likeable, sympathetic even", because he wanted the audience "to understand why they would hang out with me. If my character wasn't necessarily likable, I wanted him to be charismatic enough that you weren't going to have a dull time if you were with him."[27] In another interview, Sarsgaard said he felt "empowered" by playing Lotter.[28] Peirce cast Alicia Goranson because of her likeness to the real life counterpart, Lisa Lambert, who was 24 when she was shot by John Lotter alongside Teena, as Candace.[5] Like Sevigny, Goranson had initially auditioned for the lead role.[24]

Filming

Principal photography

Principal photography for Boys Don't Cry lasted approximately 40 days, from October 19, 1998 until November 24, 1998. The budget acquired dictated some of the filming process, including omitting real-life incidents to speed up the overall pacing. In addition, timing constraints put pressure on what could be achieved with the narrative.[5][29] A significant omission is the film's portrayal of a double murder, when in actuality a third male, Phillip DeVine, an African American, was killed at the scene, who at the time was dating Lisa Lambert's (Candace in the film) sister.[30][31] Peirce produced the film independently on $2 million and filmed Boys Don't Cry primarily in Texas in Greenville, a small town about 45 miles northeast of Dallas. These locations which are outside of Nebraska (where most of the authentic locations in which the real-life incidents occurred) were used mainly due to budget constraints.[5] During the filming process, Peirce chose to incorporate techniques that gave the audience the oppurtunity to delve into Brandon's perspective, his imagination and the way he perceived things: a general balance between the person he was internally compared to his physical self. "The work was informing me about how I wanted to represent it. I wanted the audience to enter deeply into this place, this character, so they could entertain these contradictions in Brandon's own mind and would not think she was crazy, would not think she was lying, but would see her as more deeply human."[5][9] During filming, Peirce took inspiration from other true crime films, including Terrence Malick's Badlands (1973) and Richard Brooks In Cold Blood (1967) while also drawing inspiration from the story of Pinocchio. Peirce also chose to not show how Brandon looked before he began cross-dressing, so the audience could perceive Brandon the way he perceived himself—as a male.[32]

Boys Don't Cry featured various scenes which required emotional and physical intensity and thus were allocated extended periods of filming. The bumper-skiing scene took six hours to shoot and ended up being filmed during sunset which resulted in a blue sky in the background of the scene.[5] Further difficulties occurred including a flood, which gave the cast and crew a "mud bath" and resulted in some of the filming equipement being stuck in mud. Furthermore, radio wires in some of the scenes conflicted with sound. Swank required a stunt double for the scene in which she was to fall off the back of a truck after riding it. Teena's rape, which saw an emotional Sexton (who portrayed the attacker) walking away in tears, was given an extended filming time.[5] Swank also found the ordeal of her character daunting and felt the need to "keep a distance" from the fact that the event actually occurred. When scenes became difficult, Swank requested the company of her husband on set.[14]

Initially, a restricted budget gave Boys Don't Cry a mere ten weeks of filming, however Fox Searchlight purchased the film in 1998 and IFC Films agreed to distribute the film, giving the project an additional twenty-two weeks for filming.[7] The extended filming time allocated coincided with various test screenings at the request of producer Christine Varchon, in which several edits and changes were made to the film, including scenes which provide further detail into Brandon's sex change surgery, such as his frustrations, fear and financial issues (including being unable to keep various jobs) regarding the sex reassignment procedure.

Cinematography

[[File:|thumb|267px|right|Peirce set up a sequence that made the viewer feel as if you were walking with Brandon, through his fantasy. A three-shot structure inspired by a scene from The Wizard of Oz (1939) was used for this technique: a shot of the character, they walk in, the door opening, the character going through and us going through, viewing the landscape.[5]]] Prior to filmmaking, Peirce had originally sought a career in photography, however chose to pursue a career in filming instead. Nonetheless, she incorporated a considerable amount of photographic qualities during the filming of Boys Don't Cry— including the use of time-lapse photography, particularly when displaying the dimly lit Nebraska landscape. Peirce was assisted by cinematographer Jim Denault, and the two incorporated a visual style that is often dark, saturated and raw, depicting the harsh Midwestern United States in a "withdrawn",[33] dark and understated light, giving a "surreal" effect.[34] Peirce shot Boys Don't Cry in flat spherical format on 35 mm film using Kodak Vision film stock. The film was shot on Panavision cameras and C-Series lenses. For all violent, emotionally charged scenes (such as the scene in which Brandon is stripped), Peirce used a hand-held camera to provide the scene maximum flexibility in composing shots without being too shaky to detract from the character's face, surroundings and expression.

Many scenes were shot at night and give a muted palete. However, there is a significant use of colour and brightness in certain scenes—for example both scenes featuring Brandon and Lana making love. Peirce also took visual inspiration from older films, including Raging Bull (1980) and Bonnie and Clyde (1967). She chose to open the film with a shot of a location (in the film's case, by showing Brandon traveling the highway), seen from the character's imaginative or dream perspective as opposed to the way it may actually have appeared in reality, similar to the beginning of Raging Bull.[5] Peirce also used the same shots in the opening roller rink scene (where Brandon pursues his first relationship with a young girl) that were used in The Wizard of Oz (1939) when Dorothy first left her house and entered the land of Oz by using a three shot sequence to symbolize a metaphoric "entrance to manhood" for Brandon. Some scenes were given a pro-longed shooting sequence to induce a hallucinatory feeling, for example the scene in which Lana has an orgasm, followed by a shot of her, Brandon, Candace and Kate driving in a car against the backdrop of the city skyline.

Peirce drew inspiration from the filming style of John Cassavetes, the early work of Martin Scorsese and incorporated neo-realism techniques in filming.[8] Peirce used the camera to transform Brandon's experience onto the cohesive film. For instance, when a character expresses a dream or hopeful assertion about their dead-end existence, Peirce cuts to an "eerily lit" dream landscape, which one critic observed: "that's almost David Lynch-like in its beauty, dotted with simple elements like water towers, naked trees and low ceilings of clouds."[35] Time lapse photography is used in several sequences, but more significantly in the scene where him and Lana discuss plans to tell the family that she has "seen him in the full-flesh" and toward the end when Lana is seen driving on the highway after Brandon's murder before the credits appear.

Music

Nathan Larson and Nina Person of The Cardigans composed an instrumental version of Restless Heart's 1988 country-pop hit "The Bluest Eyes in Texas". A variation of the song was used as the film's "love theme" and score,[5] while the actual song appeared during a karaoke scene, sung by Sevigny and at the end of the film. The title of the film is taken from the song of the same name by British rock band The Cure, and an American cover of the song also plays in the background in two scenes: when Lana bails Brandon out of jail, followed by the scene in which the two make love in the car where it appears at a lower volume, in the background. The soundtrack was released on November 23, 1999 by record label Koch Records.

"The Bluest Eyes in Texas" also performed when Hilary Swank goes upstage to receive her Academy Award for Best Actress in 2000.

Themes

Boys Don't Cry has been regarded academically as a thematically rich love story between two ill-fated lovers, not unlike Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet or the story of Bonnie and Clyde.[36] Upon reviewing the film, some critics have regarded the film as being a "romantic tragedy" occurring in a lower middle class American setting. Roger Ebert supported this view, calling the film a "Romeo and Juliet set in a Nebraska trailer park".[37] In trailers, the film was marketed as a non-fictional tale about "hope, fear and the courage that it takes to be yourself". This summarization stregnethens the academic view that the film is about the search for freedom and (assumed) identity in a society where diversity is rarely accepted.[32] The question of identity (particularly Brandon's) is alluded to frequently in Boys Don't Cry and the line "who are you?" is even uttered at one point in the film by Lana to Brandon, which Peirce proposes as being the main question of the film itself.[38] Janet Maslin stated the film was about accepting identity, which in turn meant also accepting the fate pre-disposed to that identity.[39] Critics like Paula Nechak have called the film a "bold cautionary tale",[40] with references to the pressure of conformity and acceptance, and as a result some critics even citing parallels to Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain (2005).[32] Nachak also regarded the film as a negative, dismal depiction of the Midwestern America: Peirce's film has "captured the mystique and eerie loneliness" and "isolation of the Midwest, with its dusty desolation and nowhere-to-go frustration that propels people to violence and despair."[40] Some critics noted that the film was about the illusions produced by love or a strong relationship: "Romance is built on illusion, and when we love someone, we love the illusion they have created for us", Roger Ebert noted.[37]

Critics and academics have attributed Boys Don't Cry's success to the fact that it ostensibly argued for tolerance of sexual diversity, by depicting a relationship between two unlikely people. The film's significance has also been linked to its portrayal of a (initially unknown) same-sex relationship without any reference to the history of the gay civil rights movement. This emphasizes the tragic love story aspect many critics likened Boys Don't Cry to, which leads many commentators to effectively compare Brandon and Lana's relationship and subsequent drama that entails to classic and modern romances like Romeo and Juliet, often using the term star-crossed lovers,[41] referring to a couple, ordered together by fate or destiny, whose relationship is doomed from the very beginning. Freedom is an obvious and dominant theme in Boys Don't Cry. Brandon was in search for a place to be himself, having been ostrasized by nearly everyone whom discovered his biological gender and passed judgment when finding this out. Critics have called the film a "sad song about a free spirit who tried to fly a little too close to the flame",[37] describing Brandon—heroic and fatally flawed—as this spirit who was murdered when angry townspeople discovered whom he really was.

Maslin also saw Boys Don't Cry as a tale of trapped small town character's searching for life beyond their rural existence and paying a drastic price for their view of the "American dream".[39] Particularly Brandon, who yearned for the freedom of a new life, and Lana, who saw Brandon as an escape from her small town life, and gave Lana the ability to make the leap of faith. At one point of the film, Lana even discusses running away to Memphis with the intentions of starting a new life as a karaoke singer with Brandon as her manager. Most of the characters lead a dull and meaningless existence in a desolate small town. Many of them drink at the local bar and abuse recreational drugs to pass the time. Christine Vachon stated that "It's about these guys whose world is so tenuous and so fragile that they can't stand to have any of their beliefs shattered", in regards to John and Tom's views and aspirations for Brandon and their life. In addition, along with other turn-of-the-millennium films such as Fight Club (1999), In the Company of Men (1997), American Psycho (2000) and American Beauty (1999), critics suggest Boys Don't Cry "raises the broader, widely explored issue of masculinity in crisis".[42]

Release

Boys Don't Cry premiered at the New York Film Festival on October 8, 1999 to critical acclaim. It had also been shown at the Reel Affirmations International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in early October where it received acclamation. The following week, the film premiered in Canada at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) to further praise. Boys Don't Cry was given a special screening at the Sundance Film Festival. The film received a limited release theatrically on October 22, 1999 in the United States, where it was distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures, a sub division of Twentieth Century Fox, which specializes in independent films. The film grossed $73,720 in the first opening week, followed by an additional $237,504 on October 17, 1999. By December 5, the film had grossed in excess of $2 million. By May 2000, the film had a United States total gross of $12 million.

The film won a variety of awards, with the majority of wins going to Swank's performance. Swank won a Best Actress Oscar while Sevigy received a nomination in the category of Best Supporting Actress.[43] From the Hollywood Foreign Press, the film received two Golden Globe nominations and one win (Best Actress) in the same two categories (Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress) for Swank and Sevigny. Swank and Sevigny also received Best Actress Awards from the New York Film Critics Circle, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards and an Independent Spirit Award. The film won three awards at the Boston Society of Film Critics Awards, for Best Actress (Swank), Best Supporting Actress (Sevigny) and a Best Director for Pierce. Swank and Sevigny both won a Satellite Award for their performances, while the film itself was nominated in two other categories: for Best Picture (Drama) and Best Director. Boys Don't Cry's release was concurrent with the murder of a homosexual teenager, Matthew Shepard, who was killed on October 12, 1998, almost a year before the films premiere. The murder sparked additional public interest in hate crime legislation in America, Brandon Teena and aided public interest in Boys Don't Cry.[44]

Critical reception

"There may not be a better acted film this year. Every inch of the character exudes a male sensibility so powerfully, and at times so vulnerably, that Swank's performance crosses into a realm of veracity rare in any film acting.

Peter Stack of The San Francisco Chronicle[45]

Boys Don't Cry received highly favourable critical reception in 1999, with many critics declaring it one of the best films of the year.[33][46][47][48][49] The praise received was directed chiefly towards the performances by the ensemble, notably Swank and Sevigny. Some critics declared the film one of the most "sensational independent movies" in years. One reviewer considered the films success as a "critical knockout".[8] Particularly praised were the performances of the two leads, Swank and Sevigny, with many critics declaring Swank's performance to be "one of the greatest" in recent years and was considered an immediate favourite to win Best Actress in various film award circles, including the 72nd Academy Awards.

Boys Don't Cry became one of the most applauded films of the year. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times was particularly enthausiastic in his review: he called it "one of the best films of the year", and listed it as one of his five best films of 1999, stating "this could have been a clinical movie of the week, but instead it's a sad song about a free spirit who tried to fly a little too close to the flame",[37] while Janet Maslin of The New York Times said the film was "stunning", and gave it four out of four stars. Maslin observed that there was hope amongst the film's ugliness: "unlike most films about mind-numbing tragedy, this one manages to be full of hope".[39] Kenneth Turan of The Los Angeles Times praised the lack of romantization and dramatisation of the characters and reported that "Pierce and Bienen and the expert cast engage us in the actuality of these rootless, hopeless, stoned-out lives without sentimentalizing or romanticizing them" and continued to say that "Boys Don't Cry is an exceptional--and exceptionally disturbing film",[50] while Mike Clarke of USA Today commended Peirce's knowledge and depth of the case and overall subject: "Peirce seems to have researched her subject with grad-school-thesis intensity".[45] Emanuel Levy of Variety Magazine called the acting in the film "flawless" and acknowledged that the "stunningly accomplished" and "candid" film could be "seen as a Rebel Without a Cause for these culturally diverse and complex times, with the two misfit girls enacting a version of the James Dean - Natalie Wood romance with utmost conviction, searching, like their '50s counterparts, for love, self-worth and a place to call home." Stephen Hunter of The Washington Post noted that the performances are of such "luminous humanity that they break your heart".[51] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly called Swank a "revelation" and noted that "by the end, her Brandon/Teena is beyond male or female. It's as if we were simply glimpsing the character's soul, in all its yearning and conflicted beauty".[52]

The film was not without detractors. Elizabeth L. Bland of Time Magazine was one of the films few negative reviewers, claiming that "the film lets down the material. It's to cool: all attitude, no sizzle". Peter Rainer of New York Magazine gave an unfavourable comparison to Rebel Without a Cause (1954), calling it a "transgendered" version.[45] The negative backlash received by the film was mostly due to its adult themed subject matter—thus—in 2007, Premiere voted this film one of the "The 25 Most Dangerous Movies".[53] In addition, Premiere voted Swank's performance as one of the "100 Greatest Performances of All Time".[54]

Controversy

Despite the critical and commercial praise Boys Don't Cry received in 1999, the accuracy was disputed by the real-life people involved in the murder. Lana Tisdel sued the film's producers for "invasion of privacy" and the unauthorized use of her name and likeness prior to the film's theatrical release. She claimed that the film depicted her as "lazy, white trash and a skanky snake". Tisdel also claimed that the film falsely portrayed that she continued the relationship with Teena after she discovered Teena was anatomically and chromosomally female. She eventually settled her lawsuit against Fox Searchlight for an undisclosed sum.[55][56] Swank received criticism from the family of Brandon Teena for her repeated use of the male-gendered pronoun 'he' in her Oscar acceptance speech. Teena's mother, JoAnne Teena, argued that her daughter's transgenderism was a defense mechanism that was developed in response to childhood sexual abuse, rather than being an expression of Teena's gendered sense of self: "She pretended she was a man so no other man could touch her."[57] Swank later apologized, but many transgender activists asserted that she was correct in referring to Teena as a man, as this was the gender in which Teena preferred to live and act.

Along with the portrayal of the actual ordeal and the people involved, the film garnered significant controversy for its graphic rape scene.[58] Initially assigned with an NC-17 rating from the MPAA, the content was strongly toned down for the US release, which was rated R. Peirce was interviewed for the 2005 documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated about the trouble the film had with the MPAA, particularly the censoring of the sex scenes.[59] The double rape caused significant problems with the MPAA and had to be trimmed to avoid the NC-17 rating.[60] The European version is more explicit, particularly with the first rape. Peirce also displayed anger over the fact the MPAA wanted the sex scene between Brandon and Lana removed but were satisfied with the overall brutality and violence in the murder scene.[59]

Awards and nominations

The film won 43 awards and was nominated for 27 other awards. The majority wins went to Swank's role.

Academy Awards:
  • Won: Best Actress in a Leading Role (Hilary Swank)
  • Nominated: Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Chloë Sevigny)
Golden Globe Awards:
  • Won: Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama (Hilary Swank)
  • Nominated: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Chloë Sevigny)
BAFTA Awards:
  • Nominated: Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Hilary Swank)
National Board of Review:
  • Won: Breakthrough Performance - Female (Hilary Swank)
  • Won: Outstanding Directorial Debut (Kimberly Peirce)
Satellite Awards:
  • Won: Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama (Hilary Swank)
  • Won: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role - Drama (Chloë Sevigny)
  • Nominated: Best Picture - Drama
  • Nominated: Best Director (Kimberly Peirce)

See also

Film portal
LGBT portal

References

Notes
  1. ^ As Brandon Teena was never his legal name, it is uncertain the extent to which this name was used prior to his death. It is the name most commonly used by the press and other media. Other names may include his legal name, as well as "Billy Brenson" and "Teena Ray".
  2. ^ In the Boys Don't Cry commentary contained on the 2000 and 2010 DVD release of the film, director Kimberly Peirce states that she admired the way Brandon behaved towards women, regarding his genorsity and good will."
Footnotes
Cite error: Invalid tag— no input is allowed. Use the {{Reflist}} template or the tag; see the help page.
Bibliography
  • Blessing, Kimberly Ann; Tudico, Paul J. (2005), [Expression error: Unexpected < operator Movies and the Meaning of Life: Philosophers Take on Hollywood], Chicago: Open Court Publishing, ISBN 0812695755 
  • Halberstam, Judith (2005), [Expression error: Unexpected < operator In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives], New York City: NYU Press, ISBN 0814735851 
  • Herz, Kathrin (2007), [Expression error: Unexpected < operator The Pressure to Conform to the "correct" Gender in 'Boys Don't Cry' and 'Brokeback Mountain'], GRIN Verlag, ISBN 3638873080 

External links


Simple English

Boys Don't Cry is a 1999 film. The stars of the film include Hilary Swank and Chloe Sevigny. This film is about the story Brandon Teena, a hermaphrodite who was raped and murdered in 1993.








Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message