Boys Don't Cry

1999 Drama

Based on a true story, this drama was adapted from the life of Brandon Teena, born Teena Brandon, a woman who chose to live her life as a man and suffered tragic consequences as a result. In 1993, 20-year-old Brandon (Hilary Swank) leaves Lincoln, Nebraska for the nearby community of Falls City, where she sports a crew cut, favors jeans and boots, and is regarded as a man by most of the people in town. While Brandon's friend Lonny (Matt McGrath) warns her that sexual outsiders aren't looked upon kindly in Falls City, she develops a reputation for being something of a ladies' man, and is soon living with a single mother named Candace (Alicia Goranson). But when Brandon meets teenage Lana (Chloe Sevigny), the two become romantically involved almost immediately. Brandon makes friends with Lana's mother (Jeanetta Arnette) and a burly ex-con named John (Peter Sarsgaard). John and his buddy Tom (Brendan Sexton) run with a rough group of men who like to drink and carouse, and they accept Brandon as one of their own. However, when Brandon ends up in jail on a traffic violation, her secret comes out, and, while Lana stands by Brandon's side, John and Tom feel betrayed -- and their anger soon boils over into violence. A distinguished feature debut for director Kimberly Peirce, Boys Don't Cry was enthusiastically received in its showings at 1999 film festivals in Venice, Toronto, and New York. more..

Director: Kimberly Peirce

Starring: Hilary Swank, Chloe Sevigny, Peter Sarsgaard, Brendan Sexton III, Alison Folland


  • An exceptional--and exceptionally disturbing--film from a first-time director and writer (with Andy Bienen) named Kimberly Pierce. Unflinching, uncompromising, made with complete conviction and rare skill.

    Kenneth Turan - Los Angeles Times

    19 January 2013

  • One of the best films of the year.

    Roger Ebert - The Chicago Sun-Times

    19 January 2013

  • It's Swank, however, who's the revelation. 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.

    Owen Gleiberman - Entertainment Weekly

    19 January 2013

  • There may not be a better- acted film this year.

    Peter Stack - The San Francisco Chronicle

    19 January 2013

  • "In Cold Blood," "Badlands," "The Executioner's Song," and now, joining those grisly milestones on the heartland hit list, and every bit their equal, is Boys Don't Cry.

    Jay Carr - The Boston Globe

    19 January 2013


  • Best Actress in a Leading Role

    Academy Awards (2000)

  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

    BAFTA Awards (2001)

  • Best Actress

    Boston Society of Film Critics Awards (1999)

  • Best Actress

    Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards (2000)

  • Best Actress

    Chicago Film Critics Association Awards (2000)