Boxing Helena for me is the perfect example of potential-wasting, gutless filmmaking. Warning, spoilers follow. Philippe Caland and Jennifer Lynch presented a genuinely interesting and bold plot, that of a masochistic, mother-obsessed doctor (Nick) who desperately latches onto Helena, a beautiful temptress who wants nothing to do with him. Nick, after having inherited his mother’s palatial estate and running into Helena in a bar, decides to throw an impromptu house warming party as cover for inviting Helena into his home where she yet again rebuffs his advances. Nick then lures her back to his house where she is accidentally hit by a car and has her legs horrible crushed. Being a brilliant surgeon, Nick manages to save her life though he amputates both of her legs, and it’s at this point that the film becomes both remarkable and lackluster at the same time.
Jennifer Lynch, daughter of filmmaker David Lynch, seems as if she’s taking a page out of her father’s surreal dream-logic filmmaking book as Nick keeps Helena prisoner and begins to slowly and literally deconstruct Helena limb by limb until she’s truly an object of his desire. Helena, on the other hand, spends her time digging into Nick’s psyche, taunting his manhood and in a very demented twist falling in love with him, I believe based purely on his desire for her, which transcends physical beauty (something she is used to men fawning over.) Unfortunately this second act is severely hampered by pointless complexity (in terms of the number of characters in the film) and some very forced and unconvincing performances (namely by Bill Paxton who’s trying his best to invoke his character Sevren from Near Dark and Sherilyn Fenn who stoicism is almost laughable.)
Though the acting is generally bad and the directing generic the plot would save this otherwise mundane film, but this to is thrashed by a very trite and gutless third act that ends with an ambiguous twist ending, which implies that the entire second act was either a hallucination or a dream. When I rented this film I had very high hopes based on the loose connection to David Lynch and the story in general. I mean who sits down to write a movie about a man so obsessed with a woman that he makes her into a living Venus Di Milo, and then pussies out at the end and implies that it’s either a dream that Helena has had after the accident, or a hallucination that Nick is having in the hospital after he brings her in (instead of keeping her in a psuedo-box on his dining room table.)