Boxing Helena

September 3rd, 1993


Boxing Helena

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A surgeon becomes obsessed with the seductive woman he once had an affair with. Refusing to accept that she has moved on, he amputates her limbs and holds her captive in his mansion.

Release Year: 1993

Rating: 4.1/10 (6,261 voted)

Critic's Score: 26/100

Director: Jennifer Chambers Lynch

Stars: Julian Sands, Sherilyn Fenn, Bill Paxton

A top surgeon is besotted with a beautiful woman who once ditched him. Unable to come to terms with life without her, he tries to convince her that they need each other. She has other ideas, but an horrific accident leaves her at his mercy. The plot is bizarre and perhaps sick at times, ending abruptly and with a twist.

Writers: Philippe Caland, Jennifer Chambers Lynch

Julian Sands - Dr. Nick Cavanaugh
Sherilyn Fenn - Helena
Bill Paxton - Ray O'Malley
Kurtwood Smith - Dr. Alan Harrison
Art Garfunkel - Dr. Lawrence Augustine
Betsy Clark - Anne Garrett
Nicolette Scorsese - Fantasy Lover / Nurse
Meg Register - Marion Cavanaugh
Bryan Smith - Russell
Marla Levine - Patricia
Kim Lentz - Nurse Diane
Lloyd T. Williams - Sam the Clerk
Carl Mazzocone Sr. - Pastor
Erik Shoaff - Uncle Charlie
Lisa Oz - Flower Shop Girl

Taglines: Beyond love, beyond obsession, there hides something beyond reason.


Official Website: MGM |

Release Date: 3 September 1993

Filming Locations: 822 Lullwater Road, Druid Hills, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Opening Weekend: $787,724 (USA) (6 September 1993) (161 Screens)

Gross: $1,796,389 (USA)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Ed Harris and John Malkovich were offered the lead role of Dr. Nick Cavanaugh. The role eventually went to Julian Sands.

Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): The main character has an English accent, even though neither of his parents (both of whom are heard speaking) do, the story takes place in America, and it is implied that he grew up there as well.

Helena: A woman is something soft; something warm when you feel her. When she's naked. When she's touched. Discovered. You see that things happen inside of her. She opens up. Sometimes a woman is sad. Sometimes she's angry. Helpless. Beautiful. Sometimes she's strong...

User Review

Couldn't he have started sawing with the head?

Rating: 1/10


Julian Sands plays a contemptible wuss who furtively lusts after an impossible jerk of a woman. One day a happy accident knocks her out and the Sand's character gets to chop off her legs and keep her imprisoned in his mansion. Then there is a long long stretch of undrama as Sand's finishes boxing Helena - cuts her off the from the world and gradually snips away at her body till she is just a trunk and a head to be propped up and tended to. Then Helena's crazy boyfriend storms the gates and doesn't want her.

Just writing that down I can't help thinking that it's a funny idea. Maybe I'm warped, but the concept of an old-fashioned guy slowly giving in to his urge to objectify a woman he can never have (so that he actually turns her into something like a gory, statue bust of herself) seems like it'd be hilarious to watch. It's masterfully done in Bunuel's That Obscure Object of Desire. Boxing Helena tries to hit the same notes about how the will to control, destroy, degrade, and infantalize are all the logical extremes of some notions of `love.' It fails because the characters are poorly written.

The plot demands that the characters be unlikable. Chopping up a likeable `heroine' to make a point about obsessive control just doesn't work outside of a light slasher flick. The guy doing the chopping can't be all that saintly either, cuz he's giving into some pretty awful urges. But in order for the plot to work, you have to at least see why the Helena character might spark an obsession and the chopper must be at least slightly sympathetic. Otherwise it's just an obsessed crazy guy chopping up a jerk. Boxing Helena is an obsessed crazy guy chopping up a jerk.

The Sands character is loathsomely spineless. He's a creepy, simpering bore. Helena is a demented moron who wants to use people, but is too stupid to get more out of her looks than a thuggish oaf boyfriend. Watching them interact was torture.

Ending on a `it was just a dream' note is just plain baffling. It implies that Sand's character is a whining, sniveling waste even IN HIS DREAMS! There's black humor and then there's `I just wasted two hours of your time watching a worthless character wish for something pathetic, badly.'

Final note: the symbolism was about as subtle as a brick in the head - over and over.


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