The true story of Teena Marie Brandon, a young woman from Lincoln, Nebraska, who inverted her name—to Brandon Teena—and her sexual identity. Dressing as a boy, she moves to a conservative small town and falls in with a group of local losers; among them is the sweet, lonely Lana (Chloe Sevigny, excellent as always) with whom Brandon has a tender sexual affair. Crisply directed by first-time feature filmmaker Kimberly Peirce, Boys Don’t Cry also reflects the politically savvy, stylistically adventurous personality of its producer, Christine Vachon (Poison, Happiness). As Brandon, Hilary Swank (of Beverly Hills 90210) is an effectively ambiguous presence, with some of the scrubbed naivete of a Disney protagonist. Ultimately, social defiance leads to tragedy, in a violent conclusion that makes martyrs of much of the cast.