Boys Don't Cry
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Boys Don't Cry

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One thing the majority of people are most sure of is their gender. You now whether you are a man or a woman. Tenna Brandon did not feel this certainty. She was more comfortable in the guise of a boy and going by the name Brandon Teena. Boys Don’t Cry is the true account of the disturbed life and death of this person. Brandon (Hilary Swank) was always in trouble, car theft and other violations eventually made her wanted in her home state of Nebraska. Her only confidant was her homosexual cousin who eventually got feed up with Brandon so Brandon hit the road. Travelling down to Texas she meets up with a group of twenty-somethings in a rural town. She fits right in and is adopted by the group mother. This group mother (Jeanetta Arnette) is actually the mother of Lana (Chloe Sevigny), the girl that Brandon falls in love with. Lana rapidly returns the love, seemingly oblivious the fact that Brandon is a girl. She is drawn by the sensitive personality of Brandon, a stark contrast to the red neck boys in town and John (Peter Sarsgaard) a guy that knew her all her life. John slowly becomes extremely jealous of Brandon as the love between her and Lana grows more intense and more obvious. The begrudging friend between John and Brandon eventually breaks down with the most heinous of consequences.

The acting in this film is top notch as evident by the Oscar nomination for Sevigny for Best Supporting Actress and the Oscar win for Swank for Best Actress. Both talented young actresses throw themselves into their role so that you often get the feeling that you are there watching the actual characters play out their tragedy. Swank lived as a boy for a month before accepting the role determined to be able to truly live the role and make the performance believable. It worked. Brandon’s confusing, tenderness, inner strength and determination come through so realistically. Swank is certainly an actress that is destined for greater roles than her past 90210 and Karate Kid performances would indicate. She has paid her dues with such roles and now is seasoned enough to move on to real meaningful films. I have been a fan of Sevigney since her first film, Kids. Her doe-like eyes convey a vulnerability that is immediately endearing. The range of emotions she can bring to a role is almost without peer among the current group of actors. She is another actress that is well worth watching.

Freshman director Kimberly Peirce brought an obvious personal commitment to this film. Her commentary shows how difficult this film was for her. She is a perfectionist that demands a lot from cast and crew and deservedly gets it. Every scene is artistically crafted. The use of lighting, background and placement shows a talent that can only develop into one of the best independent directors out there. In fact, the Independent Film Channel was so impressed by Peirce that they provided additional funding for the film when they almost had to shut down. They know talent when they see it and after this film so will you.

The DVD is perfection. The anamorphic video transfer is not only up to contemporary standards it sets the bar a bit higher. The colors are always perfectly balanced without any bleeding. The audio is clear and well balanced between the front and rear speakers without being unnaturally positional. The extras include a very expository commentary and several trailers. Get this disc and sit down ready for an emotional roller coaster.

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