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Boxing Helena

Boxing Helena

Released May 31st, 1994
Running Time 104
Director Jennifer Lynch
Company Orion Home Video
Critical Rating Not Yet Rated
Genre Alternative



Due to Kim Bassinger's contractual dispute with the producers, this film received a lot of unfair press at the time of its release; most of it unrelated to the film itself. Now that the furor's died down, let's set the record straight: Helena is a film of distinction. If not deserving outright acclaim, it does merit attention — not only for a few quirky performances but also for a directorial debut by David ("Twin Peaks", Blue Velvet) Lynch's daughter Jennifer, who displays a deft hand with difficult material. (Not to mention scenes of Fenn in complete dishabille, which will certainly satisfy nudity celeb-philes).

The plot's hook is basically a contempo riff on the Beauty & The Beast theme: brilliant surgeon Julian Sands saves beautiful Helena (Sherilyn Fenn) from a car accident, dispensing with her limbs, imprisoning her in his mansion. Following a traditional linear path, the story takes a bit too long in setting up the psychological justification for Sands' obsessive nature, but finally moves into fresher territory when Fenn awakens sans extremities.

Naturally, she loathes him, show­ering Sands with a string of abusive taunts that makes Cat On A Hot Tin Roof's Brick and Maggie seem like John Tesh and Mary Hart by comparison. But like any truly devoted intellectual fruitcake, Sands perseveres, spoon-feeding her meals and poetry, winning her over — in a way. Much of her change of attitude occurs within the confines of his mind; a prime example being the scene where he nearly commits suicide by gun. Falling exhaustedly into her ex-lap, Sands imagines Helena as a pre-op fantasy woman who seduces him into a mass of quivering jelly.

Consciously avoiding the stylish fringe of visual/behavioral eccentricities that made her father famous, Lynch's approach to what is essentially a black comedy is almost conservative, relying more on the outrageous nature of the material itself to produce laughs — though there's an exceptionally funny sequence where

Sands chases after wheelchair-bound Fenn in a desperate attempt to keep her from answering the front door! Lynch fuels Fenn and Sands with an edgy passion which wavers between amour and animosity in equal degrees. An amusing supporting role from the always-watchable Bill (Aliens) Paxton adds incentive give this vid a second chance.

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