Labels: Her Complex Role in Boys Don't Cry
Sevigny seems to be at the top of her career in the year 2000 as she revels
in the honor of her first Academy Award nomination as best supporting
actress in the intense indie crossover hit, Boys Don't Cry. The film dramatizes
the shocking true story of Brandon Teena (born Teena Brandon), a young
transgender woman living as a man in Nebraska during the early '90s, who
was raped, then later murdered by two violent "friends" because
of who he was and the way he lived.
plays Brandon's girlfriend, Lana Tisdale, who stood by Brandon to the
very end. The movie is full of questions about gender and gender roles,
most obviously centered around Brandon Teena. But Sevigny, through her
subtle, sexy and complex performance, makes us look at the many sexual
roles Lana Tisdale played as well.
the book about Teena, All S/he Wanted, the documentary film,
The Brandon Teena Story and in Boys Don't Cry,
the same information comes through: that Brandon was attracted to very
feminine girls, liked to play the conventional role of a chivalrous Romeo
and balked at the idea that he was simply a lesbian. Sevigny is able to
capture the jaded, yet innocent quality of the trashy, yet traditionally
feminine Lana as she is first wooed by Brandon, who she assumes is a biological
first time they make love, she is making love as a heterosexual woman
to a presumably heterosexual young man. Later in the film, she has a lesbian
love scene with Brandon after "he" has revealed himself to her
as a biological woman. Never in a film has the complexity of gender and
sexuality been explored so sensitively, realistically and passionately.
And never has there been an actress so capable of exploring these deep
and controversial waters before.
and Death: The Scorpio Obsessions
Sevigny's career has followed a very Scorpionic pattern. Scorpio, after
all, is the sign associated with sex, death and transformation. She first
received a huge amount of buzz with her starring role as Jenny in Larry
Clark's controversial 1995 film, Kids, which was written
by her then boyfriend, Harmony Korine. In this movie, she played a teenager
who gets HIV infected the first time she has sex.
is thought of as the planet of intense transformation. Its turbulent effects
force us to change and grow by facing our own "demons." When
the movie was released, Pluto, the ruling planet of Scorpio, was finishing
a long, long trip through Scorpio—a transit that began just when AIDS
was first beginning to enter the public's mind.
at the time of her film's release in spring, 1995, Pluto was transiting
Sevigny's Venus, the planet of art and female sexuality. Certainly, AIDS
has been the greatest (and most horrific) metaphor for Scorpio issues
of our time: it links sex and death in a concrete way. And this thought-provoking,
button-pushing film certainly transformed Sevigny's life, from slacker
kid hanging out in Washington Square Park with Korine, to the "voice of
her generation"—a moniker given to her by writer Jay McInerney, that she
does not accept. In true Scorpio form, she prefers to just be the voice
her Sun, Mercury, Venus and Mars all in Scorpio, it's no wonder Sevigny
has continued to explore the themes of this mysterious, intense sign in
film after film. Her most commercially-accessible role was in Walt Stillman's
1998 movie The Last Days of Disco. In this light, smoothly-written
comedy, the focus is on a group of over-educated, overly-analytical, white
twenty-somethings who are figuring out what to do with their lives during
the end of the "sexual revolution" and just before the onset of AIDS.
though the film is light and airy, Sevigny once again is the voice of
the heaviest, most Scorpio-themed plot point in the film. Her basically
introverted, innocent character decides to "act" like a slut
in order to impress the guy she likes, and ends up getting a sexually
transmitted disease from him.
year, she played a lesbian opposite Dawson's Creek star Michelle Williams
in the HBO movie If These Walls Could Talk 2. In Sevigny's episode, which
takes place during the early days of feminism and last days of hippie-dom,
she plays a self-identified butch lesbian who proceeds to sweep slightly
self-loathing Williams off her feet.
gay newspaper The New York Blade called Sevigny's episode "the hottest
segment" of the three in its March 3 issue. Perhaps part of that
heat came from the connection between Sevigny's earthy Moon in Capricorn
and Williams' earthy Virgo planets.
of what makes the segment so great is that Sevigny makes us feel for this
character who loves women, but doesn't want to fit into the 1972 feminist
stereotype of what a lesbian is supposed to look like (peasant shirt and
long hair). She is comfortable with herself and her sexuality. Sevigny's
ability to play so many sides of female sexuality makes her something
of a modern day Marlene Dietrich, with just as much mystery, and much
and Swank's Astro Links to the Real Star of Boys Don't Cry
Chloe Sevigny and Hilary Swank are doing the glamorous awards show/film
festival/talk show circuit to promote Boys Don't Cry, both women have
expressed that it is the story of Brandon Teena himself that is so tragic
and moving. He is the real star of this groundbreaking film.
fact, both actresses have intense emotional connections to his chart.
Swank's Moon, which represents her emotional nature, is in the same sign
as Brandon's Sun, Sagittarius. It's clear from Swank's performance that
she was able to get inside the heart of Brandon. Brandon Teena also had
Venus and Mars, his "love planets," in Scorpio, and they made a conjunction
(a close, intense relationship) to Sevigny's Sun and Mars in Scorpio.
is a magical way for huge groups of people to share a similar emotional
experience, and Neptune, "the planet of healing and illusion," is the
planet that most present day astrologers associate with this modern art
form. Pluto, the planet that rules Scorpio, happened to be transiting
Swank and Sevigny's natal Neptunes during the making of Boys Don't
actresses can rest assured that they have done right by Brandon Teena,
by compassionately and beautifully bringing his story into the hearts
of millions of movie-goers. And judging by the intensely positive reaction
of critics and audiences to this film, one would like to believe that
they've helped to transform some of the homophobia and transgender discrimination
that lead to Brandon's death into a deeper understanding of sexuality