Boxing Helena (1993)

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  •  (2.5 out of 5 stars)

Jennifer Chambers Lynch wrote Boxing Helena when she was 19 years old and went on to direct the film when she was 24. The resulting film is strange, though not necessarily in a Lynchian way (although there are elements of oddness that seem influenced by her father David Lynch). Julian Sands, who plays the lead role of Dr. Nick Cavanaugh, is the real dud of the movie. His feeble attempts to woo Helena (Sherilyn Fenn) are met with laughter by her and the audience. The movie takes a funny turn when Helena is hit by a truck and loses her legs and Dr. Nick imprisons her in his home. But the novelty of a legless Helena soon wears off as she treats Nick with the same scorn in scene after scene. Nick gets bored with her and cuts her arms off too and puts her in a box. Eventually Bill Paxton shows up in leather pants with a gun to put an end to the affair, and the twist ending is inexplicable. Kurtwood Smith and Art Garfunkel play Nick’s doctor friends who are useless in helping Nick with his impotence.

Boxing Helena is a 1993 American romance and horror film directed by Jennifer Chambers Lynch, and starring Sherilyn Fenn, Julian Sands, and Bill Paxton. The plot follows a surgeon whose growing obsession with a woman leads him to amputate her limbs and hold her captive in his home after she suffers a car accident.

The film garnered notoriety prior to its release after protracted legal battles with Madonna and Kim Basinger, both of whom backed out of the leading role of Helena. It debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January 1993, where it received critical praise. After receiving an NC-17 rating by the MPAA, the film was given an R-rating on appeal and released in the United States in September 1993, but received critical backlash and was a financial failure.