“Boys Don’t Cry” DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

2/10/2011 Posted by Admin

“Boys Don’t Cry”

DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

Directed by Kimberly Pierce, Written by Kimberly Pierce and Andy Bienen, 118 minutes, Rated R.

By our guest blogger, Matthew Schimkowitz

“Boys Don’t Cry,” just out on Blu-ray disc, isn’t just the story of Brandon Teena’s murder. It’s the story of countless others in the gay community threatened and attacked by those they trust.

Kimberly Pierce’s film is a hard, uncompromising look at these tragic relationships by eerily inviting and violently alienating the viewer. Based on a true story, "Boys Don't Cry" is a product of its time, reflecting the explosions of violence that closed out the 1990s, and remains unfortunately relevant today.

Hillary Swank stars as Brandon Teena, a transgendered male living on the fringes of society. Holding up with some new friends only a few miles from his own Nebraskan town, Brandon keeps his secret close. He falls for Lana (Chloe Sevingy), who like him, doesn't see anything wrong with his sexuality; however, her ex-boyfriend John (Peter Sarsgaard) certainly does. Suddenly, John's big brother act turns violent as Brandon's hidden identity surfaces.

Broken into two halves, “Boys” Don’t Cry” welcomes the viewer through the close friendship of the cast, before shattering that relationship in a hail of gunfire. Upon introducing John and his friends, their intimacy is palpable. There is history and dynamics to their relationships that grows with the film. Pierce acquaints us with these people, and we come to know them well, making the hostility and tension of the film’s second part all the more shocking.

Sarsgaard, who in the film's first half only has instances of hostility, explodes on screen. He’s unpredictable, comforting and scary, and as his character grows more confrontational, so does the film. Suddenly, John turns Brandon’s whimsical ride into a dizzying nightmare. Opposite him, Hilary Swank's apprehension plays off Sarsgaard's brute strength perfectly. Brandon's fears become very real and very difficult to watch.

"Boys Don't Cry" lives in a grey area, bringing together the whimsy of the early-'90s (represented in the film’s lively first hour), and the violent end of the decade, highlighted by Columbine and Matthew Shepard's murder. You can hear echoes of these moments in the film's final scenes. It's horrifying, unsettling and painfully real.

Pierce’s film is an important artifact from the not-to-distant past that grows in relevance every year. “Boys Don’t Cry” characterizes the alternative attitudes of the '90s, as well as the cavalcade of violence that marked its end.

Grade: A

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