Boxing Helena

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Boxing Helena
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jennifer Chambers Lynch[1]
Produced by Philippe Caland
Carl Mazzocone
Screenplay by Jennifer Chambers Lynch
Story by Philippe Caland
Starring Sherilyn Fenn
Julian Sands
Bill Paxton
Kurtwood Smith
Art Garfunkel
Music by Graeme Revell
Cinematography Bojan Bazelli
Frank Byers
Edited by David Finfer
Main Line Pictures
Distributed by Orion Classics Entertainment Film Distributors (UK)
Release dates
  • September 3, 1993 (1993-09-03)
Running time 107 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2 million
Box office $1,796,389[2]

Boxing Helena is a 1993 romantic drama thriller film and the debut feature film by Jennifer Chambers Lynch, daughter of David Lynch.[3] The film stars Julian Sands and Sherilyn Fenn as Helena.[4]


Nick Cavanaugh (Julian Sands) is a lonely Atlanta surgeon obsessed with a woman named Helena (Sherilyn Fenn). After she suffers a high grade tibial fracture in a hit-and-run motor vehicle accident in front of his home, he kidnaps and treats her in his house surreptitiously, amputating both of her legs above the knee. Later, he amputates her healthy arms above the elbow after she tries to choke him.

Though Helena is the victim of Nick's kidnapping and mutilation, she dominates the dialogue with her constant ridiculing of him for all of his shortcomings.

Eventually, Cavanaugh's actions are discovered by one of Helena's former co-workers. During a physical confrontation, Cavanaugh is killed, only to wake up and realize that the entire ordeal had been a dream he had at a hospital during Helena's surgery after the car accident.



A legal battle ensued when first Madonna,[6] then Kim Basinger backed out of the title role – eventually Basinger was the subject of an adverse jury verdict for over $8.1 million.[7] This caused Basinger to enter bankruptcy. The verdict was then set aside on appeal in 1994,[8][9][10][11][12][13] but the actress later settled for $3.8 million.[14]

Critical reception[edit]

Boxing Helena currently holds a 19% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 31 reviews.[15]

The film was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival. However, the media critically mauled it on its release.[16] Boxing Helena won Worst Director for Jennifer Lynch at the 14th Golden Raspberry Awards in 1994.

The film performed poorly at the box office.[17]

The exception was critic Gene Siskel who, on the TV show Siskel & Ebert, admitted "I went to the theater to see it expecting the worst", and called it, "a brave little movie that explored the provocative issue of how some frustrated men channel their inability to love a woman into cruelty."


The score heard during the scene where Helena showers in a fountain, while a party crowd watches, was originally composed by Graeme Revell and based on the "Love Theme" used sparsely elsewhere in the film, with vocals by Bobbi Page. At the producers' request, "The Fountain Song", written and performed by Wendy Levy, replaced Revell's score in the DVD and subsequent releases.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Daughter Of 'Twin Peaks' Director Tackles First Film". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved October 24, 2010. 
  2. ^ Boxing Helena at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ "'Boxing Helena' Director's Debut Plunges Her Into Gender Wars". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved October 24, 2010. 
  4. ^ Weinstein, Steve (August 29, 1993). "MOVIES : Shadow Boxing : 'Helena' director fears that with the heavily publicized baggage about Madonna and Kim Basinger accompanying the film, practically no one will see without prejudice the movie she, David Lynch's daughter, made". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 24, 2010. 
  5. ^ Fox, David J. (January 14, 1993). "Boxing Helena Rated NC-17". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 24, 2010. 
  6. ^ Jane Birnbaum (May 22, 1992). "Unarmed And Dangerous: Jennifer Lynch loses Madonna, Basinger, gains Fenn for Boxing Helena". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 1, 2010. 
  7. ^ Welkos, Robert W. (March 9, 1993). "Basinger Tells Court Why She Refused Script". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 24, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Basinger Bankruptcy Puts Georgia Bank On The Block". Chicago Tribune. September 20, 1994. Retrieved October 24, 2010. 
  9. ^ Brennan, Judy; Boyer, Edward J. (September 23, 1994). "Damages Against Kim Basinger in Film Suit Voided : Courts: Appellate justices find the judge gave ambiguous instructions to jury in 'Boxing Helena' case. Verdict of $8.1 million threw film star into bankruptcy". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 24, 2010. 
  10. ^ Fox, David J. (March 1, 1993). "Kim Basinger Court Case Shines Light on Deal-Making : Trial: The 'Boxing Helena' lawsuit is the second recent high-profile dispute involving a star's defection from a project. 'The way the industry does business is what is on trial here.'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 24, 2010. 
  11. ^ Welkos, Robert W. (March 26, 1993). "Jury Refuses to Add Punitive Damages for Kim Basinger". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 24, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Basinger Testifies She Never Approved Of Script". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved October 24, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Basinger Denies Contract". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved October 24, 2010. 
  14. ^ For Kim Basinger, the "fire ball" is out – and Veronica Lake is in
  15. ^ Boxing Helena at Rotten Tomatoes
  16. ^ Maslin, Janet (September 3, 1993). "Review/Film: Boxing Helena; A Kinky, Macabre Tale Of Erotic Fascination". The New York Times. Retrieved October 24, 2010. 
  17. ^ Fox, David J. (September 8, 1993). "Labor Day Weekend Box Office : 'The Fugitive' Just Keeps on Running". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 24, 2010. 

External links[edit]