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Helen (2008)

Unrated | | Drama | 1 May 2009 (Ireland)
2:09 | Trailer
Helen is a teenage girl who, when asked by the police to play the stand-in for a reconstruction, realizes it gives her a chance to confront her own troubled past.
3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Annie Townsend Annie Townsend ... Helen
Sandie Malia Sandie Malia ... Mrs Thompson
Dennis Jobling Dennis Jobling ... Mr Thompson
Sonia Saville Sonia Saville ... Police Officer Saville
Danny Groenland Danny Groenland ... Danny
Sheila Hamilton Sheila Hamilton ... Personal Advisor
Betty Ashe Betty Ashe ... Key worker
Gavin Huscroft Gavin Huscroft ... Drama teacher
Charlene James Charlene James ... Police officer
Keith Saha Keith Saha ... Police officer
Marti Williams Marti Williams ... Detective Williams
Maria Vishnjakova Maria Vishnjakova ... Hotel chambermaid
Eddie Hardy Eddie Hardy ... College lecturer
Paul Graham Paul Graham ... Hotel manager
Middleton Anna Middleton Anna ... College student


An 18 year old girl called Joy has gone missing. Another girl called Helen is a few weeks away from leaving her care home. Helen is asked to 'play' Joy in a police reconstruction that will retrace Joy's last known movements. Joy had everything. A loving family, a boyfriend, a bright future. Helen, parent-less, has lived in institutions all her life and has never been close to anyone. Gradually Helen begins to immerse herself into the role, visiting the people and places that Joy knew; quietly and carefully insinuating her way into the lost girl's life. But is Helen trying to find out what happened to Joy that day, or is she searching for her own identity? Written by Slater, Ben (III)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Two girls are lost. One has disappeared, the other is trying to find herself.




Unrated | See all certifications »


Official Sites:

Official site [France]


UK | Ireland



Release Date:

1 May 2009 (Ireland) See more »

Also Known As:

Helen - Autopsie d'une disparition See more »


Box Office


GBP293,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Desperate Optimists See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Follows Joy (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

Helen: Beautiful and Heartbreaking
10 March 2010 | by imagikingSee all my reviews

A barely funded film, the only reason I even came to know of Helen's existence was under the recommendation of a trusted friend. It is the feature debut of film-making duo Lawlor and Molloy, previously known for a series of rule-dictated shorts; rules to which Helen also abides.

A seemingly uncomplicated story, Helen's eponymous character is a care- home raised college student struggling to get by in a world where she has known neither family nor friends. She is hired to play the part of Joy, a missing girl from her college, in a police reconstruction of her disappearance. As Helen reenacts the life of Joy, she sees a world she has never known, and finds herself considering her own identity.

The film's slow motion credits introduce us to the long takes, harrowing score, and unsettling beauty of what we are soon to see unfold. The eerie music which becomes synonymous with the central theme of identity is simultaneously uncomfortable and entrancing, drawing us into the film whilst giving the sense it may not always be a pleasant experience. Nay-sayers have cited some of the film's less convincing performances as a deterrent, but the central performance is sufficiently strong, and often moving, to hold everything together in the face of the amateur actors. The effect of the long takes is wonderfully gripping, helping us descend with this character to her new role, and drawing us into the splendour of the slow pacing. The cinematography is undoubtedly the film's area of expertise, the effulgence and mastery with which the directors convey that which goes unspoken truly fascinating and endearing. Townsend's performance meshes with the melancholy of her character, crafting a beautiful and heartbreaking impression of a girl lost in life. Her fragility and dark wistfulness is perfectly portrayed, giving us a realistic and relatable character.

A superbly shot piece bearing all the symptoms of genuinely transcendent cinema, Helen is an unforgettable film, and one which explores its ideas in a subtle, moving, and inspirational manner.

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