Sexuality has always been a controversial and a highly debated issue – occupying centre stage as a coffee house discussion or a social concern. One is all the more befuddled by the mere thought of a sexual identity crisis.
Teena Brandon (Hilary Swank) is anatomically a girl, but feels like a boy – trapped inside a body that increases her feeling of discomfort. The social mores do not condone such behaviour. People entertaining such ideas are not only seen as jeopardy to the very fabric of the society, but are also subjected to cruel punishment.
On finding about Teena’s true identity, she is raped and assaulted by her male acquaintances. However, her girlfriend Lana (Chloe Sevigny) stays beside her even after discovering the truth about Teena.
True empowerment comes for Teena not when she’s perfectly able to disguise herself as a guy. But when she’s able to form and establish a successful relationship with Lana – who accepts Teena the way she is. But sadly things come to a brutal end. Order is restored through bloodshed and sacrifice. Teena is shot dead by John and Tom who refuse to accept her as a transgender.
Kimberly Peirce has very intricately woven the themes of courage, identity, freedom and empowerment in ‘Boys Don’t Cry’. After watching Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club, I sternly believed that nobody could play a transgender to such perfection. But not until I watched Hilary play Brandon with such finesse. She’s so convincing that for once you don’t want to believe that she’s a girl. Her performance is stellar. Chloe as Teena’s girlfriend also puts up a good show. I like the way the relationship between the two develops and strengthens – like any other boy-girl relationship.
The movie is subversive to the popular notions of sexuality. It is relevant even today – especially in a country like India where same sex marriage is a criminal offence. Unfortunately even in the 21st century, Teena’s fate is shared by many where they are seen as a threat by the society.