Thursday, October 22, 2009

Boxing Helena

Three years after Pedro Almodovar’s ¡Átame! comes Jennifer Lynch’s directorial debut, Boxing Helena. A film mostly written off as the poor man’s David Lynch, I however, found it very interesting. The film shows Jennifer’s limitations as a Director, mainly due to her inexperience; nevertheless the ideas behind her story and her passion for it are palpable throughout. Boxing Helena owes a great deal to David Lynch, but it also appears to be indebted to Almodovar and Hitchcock. This is only natural, as others influence every Director. The interesting thing about Jennifer Lynch is that she filters all her influences to create her own distinctive style, even though she has a tall order to fill.

Last year I saw Jennifer’s second film, Surveillance, and I was really impressed by it. She has clearly matured as a Director, and keeping some of the dark themes she has managed to streamline her independent vision, which she hinted in her opera prima. With her second film, directed fifteen years after Boxing Helena, her directing skills seem a la par with her discourse. I don’t mean, however, that Surveillance is a perfect movie.

The symbolisms in Boxing Helena may be obvious but that doesn’t take away merit to how strong they are. The objectification of women and the pursuance of an obsession have rarely been followed to its logical conclusion in the way it is done here. Spoiler ahead. The ending does feel like Jennifer was holding back (maybe due to the theme being way ahead of its time), but it also seems to work within its “safer” solution approach (which has been labeled as a cheat). But really, where can you go from where the movie was heading? I still agree the road not taken would’ve made the best ending.

The first time I heard about this movie I was intrigued by the premise of the story, which sounded as a novelty rather than a full fletch film (but movies have been made with less!). Kudos to Jennifer for pursuing such a difficult idea and following it through.

Julian Sands role kept reminding me of Anthony Perkins in Psycho, and sadly I thought Julian Sands couldn’t keep up with that. On the other hand I was really taken by Sherilyn Fenn, whose performance was really good (and she looked beautiful), in a role that was really difficult to play, both because of the theme of the movie and the character (it even scared Kim Basinger). Nevertheless, Sherilyn’s promising career was truncated mainly due to this film.

The movie could’ve been done better, but who could’ve done this movie? I’m glad Jennifer decided to continue Directing, even if it took her 15 years. It is certainly not easy to follow in your father’s footsteps, and even less if your father is David Lynch, but I believe Jennifer Lynch is a Director in her own right.

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