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Parents' Guide to

Boys Don't Cry

By Will Fertman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Excellent but brutal drama examines life of transsexual man.

Movie R 1999 118 minutes
Boys Don't Cry Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 18+

True life tale rocks you to the core

I should've realized coming in but I did not expect this movie to hit me as hard as it did. Perhaps it is a testament to the fine acting featured in this movie, most prominently that of Hilary Swank, who embodies trans man Brandon Teena with a passion for love and a desire to be accepted. True life dramas are always the hardest to shake off after the credits roll. The story of Brandon will stick with me forever, as will this movie, a tragic romance about two people who accept and love each other regardless of their differences. There's horrible but necessary scenes of rape to convey the horror of the situation, but there's also unnecessary graphic sex scenes director Kimberly Peirce could have left out. Regardless, it's a very well done movie, but it is solely for adults.

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
age 18+

Rollercoaster of emotions...

This film was truly great with an amazing message about acceptance and staying true to yourself. 90's movies are made so well. It was a disturbing yet powerful look at a young woman's life named Teena Brandon (Hilary Swank) who has a severe sexual identity crisis. She switches her name to Brandon Teena, cuts her hair and wears men's clothing hoping to pass for a real man. She meets a group of people at a bar and they immediately take to her (him) as Brandon and finally feels accepted, especially when she meets and falls in love with Lana (Chloe Sevigny) who thinks Brandon is just the kindest down-to-earth guy. One of the groups leaders, John (Peter Saarsgaard) starts to suspect something odd about Brandon and finds out the truth which leads to disturbingly brutal consequences. This was a very sad look at finding your true self and having it accepted by those close to you and then having to explain the truth afterword. The language is very strong with tons of f-words (over 80!) and other common words along with a few middle fingers. Violence is very strong and gory with shootings killing two people and then a stabbing, corpses are seen lying in a pool of blood. A brutal rape occurs where two men beat and rape a young woman. A woman shows up beaten with cuts and bruises. Lots of outbursts of anger resulting in chair throwing, wall punching, yelling, crying and pushing. A character is thrown off the back of a truck during a dangerous game. A man drives recklessly and gets stopped by a cop. Some bullying and peer pressure throughout. Sexual content is also strong and includes a woman disguised as a man having sex with another woman who thinks she's a man, we see them kissing passionately and eventually thrusting on top of her when he uses a sexual device on her, some moaning sounds and one breast is shown. An off-screen oral sex scene with some slight sounds. Another sex scene but nothing explicit like the first, removal of clothing but no nudity. A man strips a woman against her will to reveal her gender and we see her nude full-frontal for about 5 seconds. A woman wraps a bandage around her breasts to flatten them, we see her breasts for a couple seconds. There is plenty of drinking, some smoking and drug use though not graphic. Strong content is not recommended for under 18, adults only!!!

This title has:

Great messages
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3 ):
Kids say (7 ):

Director Kimberly Peirce has made a very good film, neither a bland elegy or a sordid true-crime drama. Brandon comes off as both heroic and troubled, and each supporting character is full-fleshed and sympathetic. Swank's performance is stellar, and earned the actress her first Oscar.

Still, this is mature stuff; we don't recommend this film as a starting point for a discussion about gender or sexuality with your teenager because it's too violent and disturbing. Try lighter fare like The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert or The Incredible True Story of Two Girls in Love.

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