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Film / Boxing Helena

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Boxing Helena is a 1993 erotic thriller drama film directed by Jennifer Chambers Lynch (the daughter of David Lynch) and starring Julian Sands and Sherilyn Fenn.

Surgeon Nick Cavanaugh (Sands) is obsessed with a beautiful woman named Helena (Fenn). He tries to convince her that they need each other, but she rejects his advances. Then one day, Helena gets run over by a car, forcing Nick to amputate her legs to save her life. Afterwards, he holds her captive at his mansion, eventually amputating her arms to foil her persistent escape attempts. Things go completely bizarre once the plot unfolds.

The film was a notorious critical and financial flop and a respective Creator Killer and Star-Derailing Role for Lynch and Fenn — fifteen years passed before Lynch's next directing gig, Surveillance, and Fenn's movie career sputtered to a halt not long after. It also poisoned Kim Basinger's career, and she didn't even appear in the movie; she was cast as Helena but dropped out of the film after seeing what she was going to be in, and distributor Orion Classics responded by suing her into bankruptcy.

This film has the examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Nick and Helena had a thing once, but nowadays she feels disgust for him.
  • Abduction Is Love: With the excuse that she must be treated at home, Nick kidnaps Helena as an attempt to get her to love him.
  • All Just a Dream: Well, mostly just a dream. From the first amputation onwards.
  • An Arm and a Leg: At first Nick only amputates Helena's legs as it is necessary, but as his obsession grows, he cuts off her arms as well.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Nick just happens to have a fully equipped operating theater in his house.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Helena. Even getting her limbs cut off doesn't stop her.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: A woman named Helena ends up in a box.
  • Freudian Excuse: Part of the reason Nick grows up with multiple screws loose is a complete lack of attention from his parents; his father was cold and unloving, while his mother carried on a string of affairs and didn't even bother telling her society friends she had a son.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Helena has several of these to deliver to Nick, calling him clingy and petty and viciously emasculating him every chance she gets.
  • Twist Ending: The whole movie from the first amputation onward was a nightmare that Helena had.
  • Verbing Nouny: There's a girl called Helena, and she gets boxed.