440 user 119 critic

Boys Don't Cry (1999)

Female-born Teena Brandon adopts his male identity of Brandon Teena and attempts to find himself and love in Nebraska.


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Won 1 Oscar. Another 47 wins & 37 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Cheyenne Rushing ...
Robert Prentiss ...
Josh Ridgway ...
Kwik Stop Cashier
Craig Erickson ...
Trucker in Kwik Stop
Stephanie Sechrist ...


Based on actual events. Brandon Teena is the popular new guy in a tiny Nebraska town. He hangs out with the guys, drinking, cussing, and bumper surfing, and he charms the young women, who've never met a more sensitive and considerate young man. Life is good for Brandon, now that he's one of the guys and dating hometown beauty Lana; however, he's forgotten to mention one important detail. It's not that he's wanted in another town for GTA and other assorted crimes, but that Brandon Teena was actually born a woman named Teena Brandon. When his best friends make this discovery, Brandon's life is ripped apart. Written by Zhe

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A true story about finding the courage to be yourself.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence including an intense brutal rape scene, sexuality, language and drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

31 March 2000 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Take It Like a Man  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$2,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$73,720, 10 October 1999, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$11,533,945, 21 May 2000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Diane Keaton originally considered directing with Drew Barrymore in the lead. See more »


With all the care that Brandon takes to appear male, this would certainly include NOT shaving his legs. See more »


Lana: I mean, you don't have to be sober to weigh spinach.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Thanks to ... everyone who volunteered to speak about his or her experiences and help with research. See more »


Version of Boys Don't Cry (1995) See more »


Bluest Eyes in Texas
Written by Van Stephenson, David Robbins (as Dave Robbins), Tim DuBois (as Tim Dubois)
Performed by Chloë Sevigny, Alicia Goranson and Alison Folland
Published by Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. (BMI) o/b/o itself and Free Money Music/WB Music Corp. (ASCAP) o/b/o itself and Uncle Beave Music and Tim Dubois Music
See more »

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User Reviews

Audacious, painful and heartbreaking.
26 April 2006 | by See all my reviews

This film could be easily dismissed, given its subject, as a "lesbian love story" or, as some called it, a "chick-with-a-d*ck-flick" (actually, that's what they said of Transamerica, but in a way it works for this one, too). Those definitions are disrespectful and very reductive. Boys Don't Cry is one of the most gripping and brutal dramas ever made, and it stands the test of time thanks to its audacity and its brilliant central performance, courtesy of the heartbreaking Hilary Swank.

Swank stars as Teena Brandon, a 20-year old girl from Lincoln, Nebraska, who's right in the middle of a "sexual identity crisis" (her own words). This crisis causes her some trouble with the law, and she decides to run away, more specifically to Falls City. Once there, she starts a new life, with a new name (Brandon Teen), a new haircut and socks down her pants. It's under these circumstances that she meets Lana (Chloe Sevigny), who will begin a passionate relationship with Brandon, unaware of "his" real nature. But what's gonna happen when the truth leaks out?

On the surface, Boys Don't Cry could sound like a simple "lesbian flick", but that would be like saying American History X is just about skinheads. True, this film is about love, but it's also a careful, unflinching study of identity, hope and fear. The last one plays a significant part in the third act, as some of the characters' (most notably John, cunningly played by Peter Sarsgaard) fear of something they don't understand will have tragic consequences.

Director Kimberly Peirce tells this painful true story without judging anyone, so that the performances can speak for themselves: Swank is staggering in a role rivaled only by her equally tear-inducing turn in Million Dollar Baby (she deservedly won an Oscar for both performances). She makes Brandon appear like a human being, not a freak, and that makes her story even more uncomfortable to watch in certain parts. The supporting players excel as well, Sevigny (who was Oscar-nominated for the role of Lana) and Sarsgaard delivering the first of many riveting contributions to independent cinema.

Consistently moving, occasionally hard to watch (there's a rape scene which might upset the weak of stomach), Boys Don't Cry is a daring, powerful effort that demands to be seen. And despite its title, it's very likely to make all audiences shed a tear, no matter the gender or inclination. This is a movie that won't leave you indifferent.

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