Boys Don't Cry ★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Teena Brandon (Hilary Swank) is a young woman who refuses to accept that she's a woman and uses the male alias of Brandon Teena. Teena dresses like a man, has her hair cut short and uses various 'accessories' to make her look like a man. Teena finds love when she meets Lana Tisdel (Chloe Sevigny) who is unaware that Teena is really a woman. Things come to a head and take a dangerous turn when Lana's friends and family discover Teena's secret...

I've heard stories about woman and men whom have a sexually identity crisis; a man feeling as though they are trapped inside a woman's body and vice versa, but it's not really a subject that I know a great deal about it (and I suspect that it's something that most people will neither understand nor be able to relate to). This is clearly what Teena suffered from and being seen as a guy and hanging out with the guys made her happy and in her own mind she saw this as living a normal existence.

Perhaps that's part of the reason that I found it interesting; the fact that I know so little about it and the film does give some insight into how this type of disorder affects the individual. This part of the story resonated with me because I did think to myself that it must be genuinely awful for those people that live their lives feeling as though they are trapped in the wrong body; of course there is gender reassignment as an option, but that's quite a big step to take and presumably it doesn't come cheap either so for most individuals the only viable option will be to pretend like Teena Brandon.

Like a lot of biopics, Boys Don't Cry does play loose with some of the facts; for example in the film it shows that Lana and Teena's relationship continued after Lana discovers Teena's secret, but in actuality this didn't happen - allegedly the real Tisdel sued the filmmakers for misrepresentation. This revelation confirmed some of my suspicions about the film being a bit phony as I felt that Lana's reaction to Teena's discovery didn't reflect the way that a normal person would react to quite a major shocking discovery. In some ways I can understand why the filmmakers chose to show Lana and Teena in a relationship throughout the film; it keeps the audience more involved in the story and also makes the powerful and brutal ending more emotional - at least it did for me as I found myself emotionally involved in the story.

One other thing I found puzzling is that Lana never challenged Teena about her being a compulsive liar - yes some of it was necessary in order for her to keep her secret, but some of her lies were delusional grandeur and it made me wonder why someone would trust and want to be with someone whom they know to be a compulsive liar? Having said all that, I can't deny that this was a pretty involving film about a subject that many people won't understand or be able to relate to.

However, despite the fact that it plays loose with some of the facts it does enough to open our eyes on what it's like for an individual suffering from a gender identity crisis. It won't be for everyone, but I thought that it was a pretty good film.