Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Boys Don't Cry

Boys Don't Cry, (Peirce, 1999) Teena Brandon is trouble in trouble and so is Brandon Teena. From what we can piece together about her life growing up as a girl with a sexual identity crisis and what we see on-screen of his brief time living out his dream to be accepted as a man, there are elements of character that cannot be escaped or maybe do not change, whichever gender we are. Boys Don't Cry is a tragedy.

Whether we know the real story or not, the farther you travel into the movie, the more certain you are that there is never going to be an escape. Brandon (Hilary Swank) cannot escape the prison of his body, Lana (Chloe Sevigny) cannot escape the confines of Falls City, the small mining town to which Brandon flees the 'big city' of Lincoln, Nebraska. John (Peter Saarsgard) cannot escape his sociopathic rage when his world is threatened by the arrival of Brandon.

Peirce often shows us the bare, flat Nebraskan landscape as cars race by, their headlights merging into a solid line of motion. Is it a contrast to the lives of these people who aren't going anywhere - even when they talk of Graceland and Memphis and Tennessee? Instead, they drink to get out of their heads as they lie to themselves trying to make their world a better place. Which it never is.

It's a sad and at times brutal movie that is moving without trying to be too profound about its subject matter. It is almost a love story. Almost.

Boys Don't Cry is available on DVD from 20th Century Fox.

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