Are we what we are supposed to be? If we are not, are we willing to accept the fact? This is not the premise of another alien-infested movie, but a truly human and a very tragic tale of a girl who is faced with a 'sexual-identity crisis', as she likes to call it.
Brandon Teena's (Hilary Swank) story is that of a girl taking a chance with life that doesn't pay off. She likes to dress up like the guys, behaves like one and romances the pretty gals. The reason: she insists that she is a boy. Needless to say, she has her share of trouble with the law. One night, Brandon runs into Candance (Alicia Goranson), a single mother, in a pub. Through her, he becomes a part of a small clique that lives in another town.
The clique has a girl, Lana (Chloe Sevigny), her mother and two men - one of
them is John (Peter Sarasgaard), the lover of Lana's mom but also obsessed with
Lana. But between Brandon and Lana there is a relationship brewing that withstands
the truth of Brandon's identity. The movie culminates in shocking violence,
shocking for its very brevity and finality. Brandon is first raped by John and
Tom, and is later murdered.
Brandon and Lana are two characters who only crave to be what they feel they truly are. After all, they are seeking the same little things, love and respect. This makes Brandon's fate all the more undeserving.
The fact that reinforces all the horror and starkness of the story is that
it is true. This 1993 incident, which took place in Falls City, Nebraska, still
inflames people. Kimberly Peirce should be given all the credit for not holding
back on the narration. The film is graphic, it is stark, and for all that, it
is human. It unfailingly evokes emotion.
The cinematography is dense. In fact, darkness pervades atleast a small part
of the frame, almost throughout the film. The colors are stark and there is
zero gloss here. The behind-the-scenes work is perfect but for a couple of instances
of obscure editing.
All these things would have invariably inspired a dedicated cast to perform,
and this was obviously one. They all do a touching job, including Peter Sarasgaard,
the violence in whom is manifest.
Hilary Swank starts off by bringing out the hidden apprehensions and expectancy of Brandon, and the subsequent developments provide her with an opportunity to be at her emotive best. Only an immensely talented actress like her could have done it with the confidence that she conveys. And let's not forget Chloe Sevigny. She plays a big part in making the chemistry between Brandon and Lana work on screen.
The verdict is that it is the unarguably the best movie of last year - notwithstanding American Beauty. Hope you have the stomach for it.