[Screen It]


(1999) (Hilary Swank, ChloŽ Sevigny) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Heavy Heavy Extreme Heavy Extreme
Moderate None Moderate None Extreme
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Extreme Heavy None Moderate Extreme

Drama: A young woman with a sexual identity crisis poses as a man, befriends some small town losers and ex-cons, and opens up the possibility of someone discovering her secret when she becomes romantically involved with one of them.
Teena Brandon (HILARY SWANK) is a young woman from Lincoln, Nebraska who's so confused about her sexual identity that she's cut her hair short and switched her name around to Brandon Teena. Sporting the look and attitude of a young, but tough "pretty boy," Brandon arrives in a bar in the small town of Falls City while awaiting a court date for grand theft auto back home.

There, "he" meets and tries to pick up Candace (ALICIA GORANSON), one of any number of young women in town with limited futures and little prospect of ever leaving. When Brandon gets into a fight with a much larger and older man trying to hit on Candace, her ex-con friend, John (PETER SARSGAARD), steps in and takes care of the lech.

Soon, Brandon falls in with John's clique of small town friends including fellow ex-con, Tom (BRENDAN SEXTON III) and Candace's girlfriends, Kate (ALISON FOLLAND) and Lana (CHLOň SEVIGNY), the latter of whom is completely disillusioned with her small town existence.

Yet, some sparks enter her life when she and Brandon immediately hit it off. As they spend more time hanging out with their friends and at her mom's (JEANNETTA ARNETTE) house, the two become an item. As their relationship turns sexual and arouses John's jealousy, Brandon tries to keep his cross gender identity a secret while never imagining what reaction awaits him should the others find out he's really a young woman.

Unless they're fans of someone in the cast or are interested in sexually confused teens and/or the real-life story that inspired this film, it's not very likely.
For violence including an intense brutal rape scene, sexuality, language and drug use.
Considering the language, sexual behavior, drinking, drug use, smoking, rape and murder that occur during the film, it's highly unlikely that many parents would consider any of the characters as good role models.


This section will be updated over the next several days. That said, this is a well-made, but quite disturbing and certainly not entertaining directorial debut by first-time filmmaker Kimberly Peirce. Featuring strong, if clearly not always likeable performances Ė including a particularly outstanding one from lead actress Hilary Swank in a very demanding role that may just earn her an outside shot at an Oscar nomination -- this loose adaptation of real life events that occurred in 1993 may not match most moviegoers' reasons for heading to the theaters, but there's no denying it's certainly a powerful film.
The following is a quick look at the content found in this R-rated drama. Violence is extreme due to several people being shot and murdered (with bloody results), as well as a gang rape that also includes the victim being beaten by her assailants. Obviously those responsible have extreme bad attitudes (as do others for other, unrelated reasons), and such scenes may be highly disturbing, unsettling and/or suspenseful for some viewers.

Profanity is extreme due to the use of more than 90 "f" words, while many other profanities and colorful phrases are also present. Some activities that occur in the film may be imitated, including a scene where characters "bumper surf" on the open tailgates of trucks and another hwere two young women have been inhaling propellant from spray cans.

The main character is a young woman whose sexual identity crisis has led her to dress and think that she's a guy. As such, she/he has several sexual encounters with another young woman, and these included nudity, movement, implied oral sex and suggested sex with a prosthetic penis. Some sexually related dialogue also occurs.

All of that, as well as plenty of smoking, drinking and some drug use may cause those still concerned with the film's appropriateness for themselves or anyone in their family to take a closer look at our more detailed content listings.

  • Brandon drinks some shots in a bar while others also drink, including Candace who has a beer.
  • Candace and Tom drink while in a car.
  • Candace, Tom, Lana and others have beer/drinks in a bar.
  • People drink at a party.
  • Brandon's new friends offer him such drugs, but he declines.
  • Lana may smoke a joint and later tells Brandon that she's wasted and doesn't know if she's going to "come down."
  • Lana's mom seems to be drunk.
  • John, Lana's mom and Tom drink while playing cards/poker.
  • Tom jokingly asks John's little girl if she wants a beer and John reprimands him for that, but then has his daughter drink from his beer bottle.
  • John appears to be drunk.
  • Brandon and Tom drink.
  • Lana meets Brandon and mentions that she's "crashing really hard."
  • Brandon and his/her friends do bong hits and drink beer while riding in a car, while Kate and Candace later do bong hits sitting on a bed.
  • Everyone drinks at Brandon's birthday party.
  • Lana and her mom drink.
  • Kate inhales the propellant from a spray can (and Lana apparently has been doing the same).
  • Trying to get info out of Candace, John pours her shots of liquor that she then drinks.
  • John, Tom and the others drink.
  • Tom drinks a beer during a rape and he and John do the same afterwards.
  • Brandon has a slight cut on his/her cheek.
  • Although we don't see the actual blood, Teena has her period that evidently soaked through her jeans (as she tries to clean them).
  • We see the scars on Tom's chest and leg from him purposefully cutting himself with a knife in the past.
  • Teena's face is somewhat bloody after Tom and John raped and beat her and we later see bruises on her body.
  • Blood squirts out onto a wall as a person is shot. Later, we see a small bullet hole in this person's jaw as well as a pool of blood near their body.
  • Some may see Teena as having both for posing as a guy when she's really a young woman and then getting into a romance with Lana initially posed as that guy. In addition, we later learn that Teena/Brandon is a petty criminal and has been charged for grand theft auto (and see him/her stealing tampons and a cheap ring from a convenience store).
  • The way in which John, Tom and others treat Brandon/Teena (raping, celebrating and then killing) shows extreme cases of both types of attitudes. In addition, John and Tom are ex-cons.
  • An older man tries to pick up Candace in a bar and then gets into a fight with Brandon.
  • We see Tom spray painting some graffiti on a wall.
  • Tom jokingly asks John's little girl if she wants a beer and John reprimands him for that, but then has his daughter drink from his beer bottle.
  • John urges Brandon not to stop when the police pull up behind them. After they're caught, however, John takes Candace's car and leaves Brandon, Tom and Kate stranded in the middle of nowhere.
  • Although he shows up at his grand theft auto hearing, Brandon skips out without reporting in to the judge.
  • Some people chase Brandon back into his friend's trailer and try to get in.
  • At night, and as Brandon can barely see, he and his new friends lead the police on a high speed chase down a dirt road.
  • Once John and the others figure out Brandon is really a young woman, several tense encounters then follow between them. This includes them pulling down his/her pants to check on his/her gender and then John and Tom gang raping and beating Teena (in a several minute sequence).
  • John and Tom then come after Teena and the entire ending of the movie is rather tense and includes people being threatened and then murdered with a gun.
  • Knife: Held by Tom as he shows Brandon the scars on his chest and leg from purposefully cutting himself with a knife in the past. Also used to stab into a dead person's body.
  • Tommy gun: Seen being held by Brandon in a faked photo.
  • Handgun: Used to threaten and then murder several people.
  • Phrases: "F*ck you," "Shut the f*ck up," "Holy f*ck," "Sh*t eating," "C*ck sucking," "D*ckwad," "P*ssy whipped," "Idiot," "Dyke," "Freak," "Faggot," "Jeez," "Eat me," "Skanky little snake," "Sucks," "Bastard," "Pissed," "Fudge packer," "Shut up" and "Jerk."
  • Brandon uses a sock down in his/her crotch to give him/her a bulge down there.
  • We see Tom spray painting some graffiti on a wall.
  • We see people, including Brandon, doing some "bumper skiing" where individuals stand on a moving truck's tailgate, hold onto a rope, and then try to remain upright, as if skiing, as the truck drives around.
  • Brandon shoplifts tampons and a cheap ring from a convenience store.
  • Candace gives the finger to other people as does Brandon. Tom then appears ready to moon them, but we don't see the act or any nudity.
  • Brandon gets into a car race of sorts with some snobbish young women. Then, upon John's insistence, doesn't stop when the police pull up behind them and then leads them on a chase down a dirt road (the police eventually catch them).
  • Tom holds his hand in the flames of a campfire and then shows Brandon the scars on his chest and leg from purposefully cutting himself with a knife in the past.
  • To retaliate against Teena, John and Tom gang rape her.
  • None.
  • A moderate amount of suspenseful/ominous music plays during the film.
  • None.
  • At least 94 "f" words (7 used with "mother," 3 used sexually), 12 "s" words, 8 slang terms for or using female genitals ("p*ssy"), 4 slang terms for or using male genitals ("d*ck" and "c*ck"), 6 asses (2 used with "hole"), 3 hells, 1 S.O.B., and 10 uses of "G-damn," 5 of "Oh my God," 3 each of "Jesus," "God" and "Jesus Christ," and 2 uses of "Oh God" as exclamations.
  • Brandon's hometown friend tells him "I'd want to f*ck you" if he were a girl and saw Brandon/Teena as a guy. Brandon then replies, "You mean if you was a guy you might want to f*ck me."
  • Brandon uses a sock down in his/her crotch to give him/her a bulge down there. Later, we see him/her choosing between the rolled up sock and a realistic looking dildo to put down in his/her crotch.
  • It's mentioned that Tom likes a woman with (what sounded like) "a small butt and a tall crack."
  • We see the side of Teena's breasts as she straps them down while getting dressed.
  • We see Brandon/Teena and Lana making out where he undoes her bra (as we see Lana's bare back). We then see Lana's bare breasts that Brandon caresses (as they lie on the ground outside). He then pulls off her jeans (but we only see and then hear her pleasured reactions to him/her apparently having oral sex with Lana).
  • We see Lana in her bra and panties as her girlfriends ask her about her encounter with Brandon. They ask her is she "did it," and she replies "What do you think?"
  • We then see a flashback to the above scene with Brandon and Lana making out where we again see Lana's bare breasts. Lana then reacts to Brandon penetrating her (apparently with a prosthesis of sorts). While we don't see the actual penetration or prosthesis, we do see sexual movement and hear sexual sounds (and Lana then sees Brandon/Teena's cleavage). Lana then puts her hand down to Brandon's clothed crotch.
  • John asks Lana (about Brandon), "Are you f*cking him?"
  • Teena/Brandon admits that he's/she's a hermaphrodite and has "both boy and girl parts" (although a later view doesn't show any of the boy parts).
  • Brandon and Lana make out again standing outside a car. He then undoes her pants and they then lie down inside the car where he takes off her top and then sucks on/licks her bare breasts and we hear heavy breathing. Lana then says that she wants to "touch you like you touch me" but Brandon won't let her.
  • John and others look through a pamphlet about cross gender people and see a photograph of an artificially constructed penis (through skin grafts).
  • As John and Tom grab Brandon and pull down his/her pants to check on his/her sexuality, we see Teena's full frontal nudity. Tom then comments on him (or someone else) putting his hand in her pants and playing around with her.
  • The police interrogate Teena and ask, "You're twenty-one and never had sex before?" They then ask (about the rape), "Where'd they try to pop it in first?" and Teena replies, "In my vagina." We then see a flashback to John and Tom gang raping Teena and see John's bare butt and then see Tom putting on a condom before raping her from behind on the trunk of a car.
  • We briefly see Teena's bare breasts.
  • We see Teena's bare butt while she showers.
  • Lana and Teena have another encounter where Lana says that she's not sure what to do and Teena tells her that she'll figure it out. We don't see anything other than Lana taking off Teena's shirt (no nudity) but then see them after they've had sex. As Lana then gets up, we see partial glimpses of her bare butt and breasts.
  • Lana, Tom and John all smoke more than five times, Brandon/Teena smokes nearly five times, while Lana's mom, Candace and other miscellaneous characters also smoke.
  • None.
  • People with sexual identity crises and Lana's not caring or refusing to acknowledge that Brandon is really a young woman.
  • The way in which everyone reacts upon learning that Brandon is really a young woman.
  • The historical accuracy of the story.
  • An older man in a bar pushes and then punches Brandon who keeps coming back for more. John then punches this man.
  • John menacingly holds Brandon by the neck and as he and Tom try to pull down his/her pants, John hits Brandon in the face. Later, they tackle Teena, take her away and then proceed to gang rape her in a several minute sequence where they also punch her several times.
  • John throws Lana to the ground and then he and Tom trash a home. John then threatens various people with a handgun and shoots one dead. Tom then picks up the gun and shoots another person dead and tries to kill another, but John tackles him and the two fight. One of them then takes a knife and stabs it into the first victim's dead body.

  • Reviewed October 20, 1999 / Posted October 24, 1999

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