Look what I’m bringing back! The last time I posted a review for Queer Movie Friday was in August, which feels like a million years ago. Today I’m talking about the wonderful movie Boys don’t cry, which was released in 1999 and directed by Kimberly Peirce. It focuses on transgender issues and is based on the real story of Brandon Teena, a trans guy who was raped and murdered in 1993. (So, obviously, trigger warnings for that!)
Director: Kimberly Peirce
Genre: Biography, drama
Average rating: 7.6/10
Brandon realises that he’s trans and figures that he can start his life over as a man in Nebraska, where nobody knows him. He meets a bunch of people who are terrible friends and a really bad influence in general, but who offer him something he couldn’t have before: a life as a cis man, away from his past.
The people he meets are the kind of messed up grunge kids who do drugs on playgrounds and think drunk-driving is cool, and while I hated all of them from the start, they add a lot to the atmosphere of the movie. It has a very indie feel to it anyway, but those characters make the grunge-y indie aspect stand out even more.
One of the people he meets is a girl called Lana Tisdel, who he first has a crush on and then slowly falls in love with. What’s really wonderful about their relationship is that when Lana finds out that Brandon is trans, she doesn’t care. She says “that’s your business” and just wants to be with him. Considering this is all based on a true story, I think that’s beautiful, and the two of them really do make a nice couple.
In fact, even though Lana is part of that group of people, she stands out, being pretty much the only one who is a decent and likable human being.
The ending of the movie is spoiled by the ending of Brandon’s real life, and the fact that it had to end the way it did makes me especially sad considering how far the world has come since 1993. Of course, the world is still a difficult place for transgender people, but there is a much wider understanding and more acceptance now, so I feel like Brandon could maybe have been happy had he lived now.
Of course, one thing that’s not so great about this movie is that Brandon was not played by a trans actor, but I think perhaps the world wasn’t quite at that stage in 1999, and for a movie that is 18 years old, they did a pretty damn good job of representing transgender people in what feels like a genuine and not overly dramatic way.
I definitely recommend watching it if you can handle the themes. Keep in mind that it’s a very dark movie, and it gets darker and darker towards the ending, with a lot of graphic violence. If you think you are okay with watching that, I strongly suggest you do, because it’s 100% worth it. Boys don’t cry is definitely the best movie I have seen in a while.
‘Till next time and happy watching!