Based on the real-life case of Brandon Teena, a young Nebraska man who was born a girl named Teena Brandon, changed her sexual identity, fell in love with a local girl, and was raped and murdered by two friends when her real sex was discovered, this film is a thoughtful, honest look at a true American tragedy.
There's no way that this film can't depress as it rockets towards its inevitable (and very horrific) conclusion; however, the ultra-realistic and sympathetic performances by the entire cast (led by, of course, Hilary Swank's award-laden turn as the doomed Brandon and Chloe Sevigny's fine, subtle performance as Brandon's girlfriend) make this film worthwhile watching. In many ways it's a genuinely important film to see, made with great integrity.
My only major complaint: the often terrible rock soundtrack. Peirce should have gotten another music supervisor. At times the music is cranked to a distractingly hokey "emotional" level, it frequently doesn't correspond to what white trash kids actually listen to, and most regrettably, yes, they do use the song "Boys Don't Cry" prominently in one scene - and it's not even the Cure's original version, but a cover!