Visit Films on OVID: Our Review of ‘Helen’

Posted in What's Streaming? by - February 20, 2024
Visit Films on OVID: Our Review of ‘Helen’

In an earlier scene the titular character in Helen (Annie Townsend) is just another face, listening to a police officer. That officer, in a deadpan way, tells Helen and her fellow classmates in the British school system to do good. She says this because she wants the class to give information that may help the police find their fellow classmate, Joy. The police also choose Helen and another classmate to play Joy and her boyfriend, Danny for their investigation. The student playing the boyfriend disappears from the film but Helen, for obvius reasons, does not. Helen, who does part time work as a hotel maid, gets a new purpose in film as she takes on things like Joy’s clothing and routine.

Watching this film makes me wonder how much it really deviates from its whodunit subgenre. Films like this are always about finding the missing girl or catching the killer, but this film has other concerns. Whether or not Helen wants to replace Joy, the film simplifies what happens when a community faces loss. Evey question people asks about Helen is about her past and future, and it keeps  Joy’s loss in mind as she looks for answers. As I wrote earlier, Helen is a face in the crowd. During Helen’s first half films its titular character from a distance. Helen, then, becomes a film where the viewers search for the titular character.

That searching in Helen reflects the titular character’s own self exploration. Anyway, I assume that most people who watch any movie are willing to suspend their belief on big things. In the case of Helen, I was willing to believe that Joy’s parents (Sandie Malia, Dennis Jobling) are ok with Helen. This is true especially when Helen eventually accepts their invitation into their lives. The same goes when she meets up with the real Danny. When they meet, she asks about whether or not he loves Joy or if she was a good kisser. My only gripe here is that it treats Helen like she’s a blank canvas. As if she doesn’t have a life before Joy. It’s like this is Saltburn but it manifests its classism in subtler ways.

Yes, Helen‘s classism is subtler but it’s also less menacing, showing that the titular character’s growth isn’t at someone else’s expense. It also goes by the less is more ethos and by doing so, it imbues images with meaning. For example, the park where Joy disappears will never look the same neither to Helen nor to the viewers. Every shadow would hint at the presence that reminds us of our mortality, so we might as well explore the world before it eats us. The film pairs its message with visuals that have strong colours. The sound design is also commendable here, making us anticipate the times when Helen finally speaks out to the world.

Watch Helen on OVID.

This post was written by
While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
Comments are closed.
(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-61364310-1', 'auto'); ga('send', 'pageview');