Universal acclaim - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. 100
    One of the best films of the year.
  2. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    "In Cold Blood," "Badlands," "The Executioner's Song," and now, joining those grisly milestones on the heartland hit list, and every bit their equal, is Boys Don't Cry.
  3. For a movie that ends in the profoundest depths of sadness, Boys Don't Cry contains one of the year's purest moments of joy.
  4. There may not be a better- acted film this year.
  5. 88
    A stirring, emotionally true testament to foolish bravery as well as shameful evidence of the severity with which it is so often punished.
  6. 88
    A remarkable movie that merits a place alongside "The Executioner's Song" and "In Cold Blood" as an unforgettable depiction of tragedy in the heartland.
  7. A powerful, deeply moving tale, immeasurably facilitated by the performance of relatively unknown Hilary Swank as Brandon...smartly shot and edited, and the performances are dead-on.
  8. Boys Don't Cry's intensity sneaks up on you like a snake.
  9. Swank gives one of the year's most complex and hard-hitting performances in the demanding central role.
  10. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Swank's nuanced performance is remarkable and it's a powerful film.
  11. An amazing work, a film that seems to gurgle up from the American heartland, resonant and fully formed, ripe with possibilities.
  12. It's Swank, however, who's the revelation. By the end, her Brandon/Teena is beyond male or female. It's as if we were simply glimpsing the character's soul, in all its yearning and conflicted beauty.
  13. A radically disturbing and memorable movie whose images don't easily fade or diminish in power.
  14. 100
    An exceptional--and exceptionally disturbing--film from a first-time director and writer (with Andy Bienen) named Kimberly Pierce. Unflinching, uncompromising, made with complete conviction and rare skill.
  15. 90
    Scorches the screen like a prairie fire.
  16. Stunning...a film much tougher and more transfixing than its wan title.
  17. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Peirce's taut, sure-footed first film sidesteps sensationalism without sacrificing any of the story's wonder and horror
  18. Reviewed by: Emanuel Levy
    The poignant and candid Boys Don't Cry can be seen as a "Rebel Without a Cause" for these culturally diverse and complex times, with the two misfit girls enacting a version of the James Dean/Natalie Wood romance with utmost conviction.
  19. The longest, hardest sit of the season -- you are stuck there, a single tube of puckered muscle, waiting for the extremely ugly violence to occur -- but it is driven by performances of such luminous humanity that they break your heart.
  20. 80
    Gripping, and it's moving, but it isn't particularly subtle. There's a strong thread of tabloid drama running through its core -- but at least it's sensationalistic storytelling with a heart.
  21. Reviewed by: Zac Crain
    That's possibly Peirce's best trick of all, telling a true story so well that you can't remember how it ends. And when you remember, you hope that you were wrong.
  22. Reviewed by: Gemma Files
    An incredible star turn from Hilary Swank.
  23. Reviewed by: Ernest Hardy
    To watch Sevigny's Lana slowly thaw to Brandon is to see the transformative, heartbreaking power of romance in a way that Hollywood is rarely able to capture anymore.
  24. A powerful piece of social protest, skillfully written, directed, and acted...Hilary Swank as Brandon and Chloe Sevigny as his girlfriend Lana are especially fine.
  25. 70
    Free of the disclaiming jokey sneer that defaces so much of contemporary neo-noir.
  26. Reviewed by: Elizabeth L. Bland
    The movie lets down the material. It's to cool: all attitude, no sizzle.
  27. A haunting, superbly made film. But it's also an unrelentingly sad and depressing experience.
  28. To say this bone-chilling, gut-turning feature is "The Crying Game"-meets-"In Cold Blood." But this is a film - writer/director Peirce's first - that matches those pictures in power, in surprise, and in unnerving drama.
  29. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    A weeper poised to endure as one of the dominant independent features of the year.
  30. 63
    Too sketchy about her protagonist's interior life, and too fast and loose with the details of this story, to make much of an impact beyond its initial shock.
  31. 83
    A kick to the heart, and Swank is a marvel. Any problems in the storytelling are more than balanced by her wholly committed work.
  32. 80
    A shockingly intimate and deeply affecting film about the roots of sexual role playing.
  33. It's essentially a play-by-play of events that's so cheaply made it reeks of made-for-TV status.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 74 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 19
  2. Negative: 1 out of 19
  1. Sep 17, 2014
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. Hilary Swank's Academy Award winning performance as Brandon Teena is, of course, brave and gender-bending role. A review elsewhere incorrectly refers to Brandon Teena as a trans man.

    Based on Brandon Teena's relationship with Lana Tisdel, it is also incorrectly billed as a romance. It is nothing of the sort.

    This true story of the anatomically born (young) woman who is brutally raped and murdered after her identity is revealed.

    The story foregrounds the struggle of a psychologically tortured woman’s unsuccessful efforts to have that life-changing operation to bring her peace in both body and spirit. She is severely limited and tested by her economically poor background. The story highlights the disgusting violence perpetrated by men filled with equal doses of ignorance and hatred.
    Full Review »
  2. Sep 6, 2014
    I missed part of this film but what I saw of it I thought was unbearably pretentious filmmaking which is not to say I think that gals whoI missed part of this film but what I saw of it I thought was unbearably pretentious filmmaking which is not to say I think that gals who would rather live as guys are all full of sh**. I watch a lot of movies and as a result I have seen quite a few documentaries on the subject going in both directions. I think that filmmakers skirt over the top of this type of thing and misidentify overacting with strong content. Life's a whole lot of things and I suppose it doesn't lend itself well to being encapsulated in a 90 minutes frame with any degree of depth. The documentaries I've seen are very anecdotal-which is unavoidable-but they leave me feeling like the people who made them had a neutral opinion rather than being pro or con. This film is definitely pro but it also shows the persons life to e a mire of emotional turmoil which is frustrating to deal with as a viewer. Like I said, I missed part of much of the film is valid emotional struggle and how much is self indulgent submersion in emotional trenches the same way a drug user submerses themselves in the world of their drug is not a question this film asks. It left me wanting to watch a cops & robbers film. Full Review »
  3. Oct 20, 2013
    It may be extremely hard to watch at times, but that's the point of Kimberly Peirce's intricately crafted "Boys Don't Cry," a film carried byIt may be extremely hard to watch at times, but that's the point of Kimberly Peirce's intricately crafted "Boys Don't Cry," a film carried by a heartbreaking turn from Hillary Swank and some indelible thematic work. Full Review »