Boxing Helena

Jennifer Chambers Lynch' film  Boxing Helena which she wrote at 19 (!) screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 1993  to massive expectations and was allegedly the most anticipated film of that year's section. Why would it not, with the film being the directorial debut of David Lynch' daughter?  The latter had jumped on the stardom wagon with the ever so popular TV series Twin Peaks, launching him from the art house film theatres into the television sets of million of viewers worldwide. At the festival, Lynch Jr asked the public and press for her work to be separated from her fatther's and acknowledged in its very own right. Yet for her debut feature she used Sherilyn Fenn (known for her role as Audrey in Twin Peaks) in the title role of Helena and also used her father's cinematographer to lense it. So much for distancing, no?

The film faced its fair share of stirring controversy even before its release, mostly due to the actresses who quit the project deeming the role to be too risqué. Kim Basinger (likely not wanting to get typecasted after Adrianne Lynn's 9 1/2 Weeks) quit despite facing a law suit for the sum of $8 million for the breach of a verbal agreement which she was ordered to pay, resulting in her declaring personal bankruptcy. Even Madonna rejected the part at the height of her notorious Erotica-phase. Shouldn't this film then have served her well as an acting vehicle? Two hours after its screening, Boxing Helena died a merciless death, sending whatever hope Sherilyn Fenn had of a A-list future into despair. It was brutally savaged by critics, taking Lynch another 14 years making her second film.

I had almost forgotten about this film until seeing it again for the second time the other day. Understimated? No. It is however a prime example of one of those films that are so bad they actually almost become  somwhat good. The storyline is very interesting, it has to be said, and with more competence involved in  the making of the film it could have been a real contender so to speak. The execution is however far too poor for the film to offer any substance and instead it ends up looking like a B-rate steamy softcore adult film. Keeping things short, the story is of an obsessed surgeon who being unable to forget a former bitchy flame, imprisons her inside his home after an unforunate car accident that resulted in the amputation of her legs. Later he also amputates her arms, ultimately cutting her off from the world outside and making her dependent on him, to secure being the only one to ever love her. Yet another tale of the nautre of sexual obsession. When Woman in Chains by Tears for Fears starts playing as a backdrop in the film, it all just becomes a little too literal to not provide laughs.

The whole film can be streamed online through the following link:


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