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Plot:

Nell is a girl who’s been brought up in an isolated world. The only people she knew were her mother and twin sister. They lived together in a cottage in the forest. Nobody has ever met Nell. After her mother’s death, she’s discovered by the local doctor Jerome. He’s fascinated by her, since she speaks a mangled language, developed by her sister and herself growing up, “twin speak” if you will. But Paula, a psychology student, wants her observed in a laboratory. The judge decides they get three months to observe her in the forest, after which he’ll decide about Nell’s future.

Also Known As: Нелл, Nell - divja zenska, Нел, Νελ, Nell, Nell cea salbatica, Nele, Una mujer llamada Nell, Neru, Nell, a remetelány

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  • drazen-majstorovic
    drazen majstorovic

    Academy Award nomination is not enough. For this role they had to give her at least one. I mean… she has only two Oscars, she’s terribly underrated.8,5/10 for the movie 20/10 for Jodie Foster

  • vladimir-simic
    vladimir simic

    Touchy, unique, well-written, perfectly played…. That movie is really perfect and deserves 10/10. The theme is unique and beautiful. Performance of actors is great. Jodie Foster made me feel like it’s the real footage and story of a real person… I couldn’t stop my tears.. If you’re looking for a touchy movie, here is a 10 star drama…

  • cynthia-sawyer
    cynthia sawyer

    Jodie Foster stars in this popular film about a woman discovered in the woods of Carolina having not know civilization as commonly known.Of course, the ones who found her, Neeson and Richardson, want to take care of her and show her the new world, while their colleagues and other government people as exposed as “bad guys” and want to exlpoit her. A good film but way too predictable and too “hollywood-ized”. There are no suprises at all.. Jodie Foster does a great job in the title role. 6 of 10

  • pedro-ribeiro
    pedro ribeiro

    The major flaw of this movie, which struck me after the first 20 minutes is that it is somehow artificial. This could be due largely to the direction, which somehow almost never really got a grip on the movie.There was something relaxed about the actors, which didn’t quite fit the sad and serious subject. And Jodie Foster was definitely miscast here. She inspires determination, self-confidence and …feminism, so how the h*** could she be right for the part of a feral child? Sure, her acting is great, but why cast her in such a role? It’s like casting Julia Roberts as a brain surgeon or Jessica Lange as Margaret Thatcher. And the that end speech by Nell in the court room…pleeeaassseee. The feral child suddenly turns into a moralizing philosopher? What the heck was that? Apparantely Jodie Foster did her homework playing a feral child quite well, despite her miscast, but the writer and director were so keen to deliver a final touching scene, that they forgot all about realism there. The outcome of the movie is also fairy-tale material. And the movie is somehow very unbalanced in its elements (story, acting,direction,dialog). The three points I’m giving is for some really touching scenes, but overall it is below average.

  • pani-aurelia-gregorowicz
    pani aurelia gregorowicz

    OK, first off, Nell’s lakeside idyll is a TVA lake, made for generating hydroelectric power in the 1940’s. So much for untouched by civilization. And where’d they come up with the idea that twentieth-century mountain people practiced these crude bronze age cave burials? Bogus and manipulative all the way through, it’s a patronizing rip-off even without its condescending and wholly fraudulent ideas about Appalachian history. Jodie Foster tries desperately to gimp her way to an Academy Award, and surprisingly, it didn’t work (unlike Dustin Hoffman’s one-note performance in Rain Man or Al Pacino’s self-parody in Scent of a Woman). Michael Apted should know better, having done a half-decent job portraying mountain life in Coal Miner’s Daughter. An altogether horrible film, the worse for its pretensions and delivering some “profound” truths.

  • ricardo-pinto-sousa
    ricardo pinto sousa

    This movie is very beautiful… you must have see them. You love them all. Jodie Foster plays the biggest role. She is very great with talking the language of Nell. Liam Neeson who’s married with Natasha Richardson, -and both played also in this movie-, plays the roll of Dr. Lovell. And Natasha the role of Dr. Paula Olsen. they are great too.You can see that they love the other… and I thought Natasha was pregnant during this movie.But the importants person is Nell… and I need to say…! Great. see them!

  • anupm-senaadhiish
    anupm senaadhiish

    Any time an actor/actress can carry a film with little or no dialog, my interest is piqued. Directors have done this, Hitchcock, for one, but Jodie Foster truly showed her range in a most difficult role. The dangers would be in under- or over-doing the role, yet Jodie played it like a true professional. As far as moving the audience to caring about the title character, I struggle to think who could have done a better job. I must admit, I went in unprepared, as I hadn’t read a single review of the movie, and therefore did not know what to expect. The theater audience validated my convictions, however, as I have seldom seen such universal positive reaction to a film (other that the old Classics).

  • audrey-leclercq
    audrey leclercq

    My rating: 8 out of 10 (I really liked it) I just watched this and wow, what a movie.I hope no one would let the “average” rating this movie has received on IMDb dissuade them from giving it a try. I can’t predict what people will like and what they won’t like, but I know that for me it was an experience I didn’t want to end. The point of movies is to immerse you in another world, to make you believe you’re watching real people going through real experiences. For 2 hours ‘Nell’ did that for me.The acting in ‘Nell’ is some of the best I’ve ever seen. There wasn’t a false note to be found from a single person in the cast – these actors BECAME those characters. Never once did I feel that I was watching a performance. It was all incredibly real, and that’s rare. I was in awe the whole time.’Nell’ is full of wonderful things. The cinematography is utterly gorgeous. Normally visuals don’t carry much weight with me, but even I couldn’t help but notice. And the music, while simple, was so weighty and effective.This is not a movie for people who are bored unless there’s fighting and explosions and such. This is a thoughtful movie. It’s about people, their life experiences, and how they deal with and are shaped by those experiences.It’s interesting…I’ve read a number of reviews of ‘Nell’, and the mixed reactions it’s gotten for the last 20 years tell me that sometimes even highly intelligent people can see a movie and yet not really see it. Many reviewers would have you think ‘Nell’ is about language, about the phenomenon of “idioglossia”. Trust me, that’s NOT what this movie is about. Yes, that may be the framework for the story, and “Idioglossia” is the name of the play on which this is based, but that’s not what ‘Nell’ is about. Simply put, the story of ‘Nell’ is a story of two of the most basic and yet most profound of human experiences – love and loss. For two hours we are given a window into the lives of these characters, watching them as they help one another deal with these two matters together.I won’t say any more about the plot because I would hate to spoil anything for someone reading this, but I will add one more thing. Watching Jodi Foster in the very last scene of the movie…maybe I’m the only one who feels this way, but wow. Rarely have I seen an end to a movie that so simply, effectively, and profoundly reflects on a human being’s experience of love and loss.My rating of an 8 in no way implies that I found flaws with this movie. When you reach a certain level of quality in art it becomes simply a matter of preference. In my scale, 9 and 10 are generally reserved for movies of certain genres and certain subjects. Therefore, I would not argue one bit with someone who gave this movie a perfect score.

  • andrzej-cylwik
    andrzej cylwik

    Young woman named Nell, raised in total isolation in the backwoods of North Carolina by her mother (who had suffered strokes before her death and inadvertently taught her daughter an idiosyncratic form of English) is discovered by a well-meaning doctor who hopes to understand her; unfortunately, other doctors with eyes on their careers get involved and, figuring Nell to be a mentally backward wild child, bring science into the equation. Intrinsically, the film is about how civilization corrupts our innate innocence, yet the movie is really a bit condescending to the medical profession to suggest today’s scientists (and journalists) are only interested in basic assimilation and not the human spirit. If this is indicative of today’s society–and that the message is we’d all be better off living like Nell–it doesn’t provide much enlightenment. The picture has a cold, flat look, and I grew very tired of Natasha Richardson as a doctor who initially would like to see the girl act like just like the rest of us (all she ever seems to ask is, “So what are we gonna do about Nell?”). On the other hand, Jodie Foster goes for broke in the lead, allowing her whole self to be expressive, particularly her lovely hands. It’s a sensitive, memorable performance by the actress, who deserved her Oscar nomination, yet the picture itself disappoints, going around in a rather beleaguered circle. ** from ****

  • dott-manuele-basile
    dott manuele basile

    It’s easy to point out the flaws in “Nell”. The sub plots that are left to waste, the “Taster’s Choice” ending, and above all, failing to delve deeper into the psyche of Nell instead of dwelling too much on scenery and loose shots. Too easy. But let’s concentrate on the good. And there is much to love about this movie, not in the least Fosters brilliant acting. I remember when I saw this movie in the theater for the first time, I was totally convinced by her acting. During the entire movie I never doubted for a second that Foster was “Nell”. This is the best compliment I could give any actress or actor.

  • brianna-ramos
    brianna ramos

    The story has been presented by other reviewers but I have a little different take. The acting and story were great and Foster gives an outstanding performer. What bothers me is, as a resident the area I have many complaints. Before getting into the factual problems let’s cut to the main problem which is government intervention. I know several ‘mountain folk’ who live in the mountains just outside Robbinsville who live 100% off the land. No electric, water in house, food, etc. They are perfectly happy and Nell was more that capable to take care of herself. The government destroyed her life! Second, the City of Robbinsville is horribly represented with the pool hall scene! There is no way she would have treated like that from anyone in that lovely town! The people of the town and the surrounding counties were horrified!

  • valdemar-eriksson
    valdemar eriksson

    I bought the DVD of this film, which I was completely unaware of, because of a review I accidentally came across. Jodie Foster’s performance as Nell made an almost incredible character totally believable. How she didn’t get an Oscar for her performance says more about the Oscars than about the enormous range and empathy of this superb actress.She was assisted by a wonderful complementary and vulnerable performance from Liam Neesom and the sensitive exploration of a very difficult subject by Michael Apted. I found myself crying without immediately understanding why. I then realised that the film had plumbed the depths of my humanity to levels I did not realise existed. It confronted the question of what it is to be a fully individual human being going beyond our place in a so called civilised society to our almost instinctive spiritual responses to the natural world and to relationship. This is a truly deep and rewarding film which deserves a wide audience. My only criticism is that the transition to Nell’s independence was hurried towards the end in the interests of dramatic denouement.

  • george-jenkins
    george jenkins

    I was fortunate enough to see the original production of the play, its emotional impact was as profound as any I have experienced in the theatre. It is perhaps for this reason that I was left somewhat disappointed with this film.However, I recently looked at it again and found that it is truly a top film. Jodie Foster is a towering talent as an actor and this performance was as good or better than any she’s given. Neeson and Richardson were also at the top of their game. And the story of a woman shut off from the world, and the world’s perceptions of her, merely because she can’t communicate to it, is profound in its implications.I should not have been surprised about being disappointed the first time. I also saw a stage production in Los Angeles of IDIOGLOSSIA and found that disappointing after the original. But this film is a wonderful film.

  • ivo-santos
    ivo santos

    Nell is one of those movies that captivated me in so many ways for so many reasons. It is powerful, poetic and astonishingly beautiful with a beautiful message and an overwhelming use of angelic material that makes my heart ache from how wonderful the attributes that this film tries to get across to it’s audience are. The story is a bit familiar, yet they add so much pizazz that it makes it seem fresh and brand new.It really does handle all the subject matter so well and it is exquisitely executed. The directing and writing were amazing, and I thought the performances in particular were absolutely brilliant. Jodie Foster gave such character, life and believability to Nell that I don’t think anyone else could have gave any better; she is truly spectacular and deserved that Oscar nomination, maybe even the win. The characters are well done and really likable for the performances and screenplay behind them so you actually care for them, which is what more movies need to try and do; make you care for the characters.Like I said, Nell is dramatic to the point where it’s painful, in a good way, sort of, to watch this woman’s innocent, undisturbed life play out and unfold, and you wish for anything that you can just make everyone see her point of view and you really hope everything pulls through for this brilliant character in the end. Nell definitely makes us wonder who are the real monsters of this world. The cinematography is excellent also and I found myself completely caught up in how awe-inspiring everything in the movie is at times, whether it’s the cinematography, characters or story, which the story is absolutely gripping and fascinating, if you have not caught that by now.Nell seems to be a really overlooked film because most people do not see it for it’s full potential of delight and cleverness. It has a few fans, but I never hear any talk of how wonderful it is from anyone. I thought it was excellent, and an astonishing watch, no, adventure, that I would love to live out again sometime soon.

  • bernard-ilic
    bernard ilic

    Nell is one of the most captivating, moving and thought provoking films I have ever seen in my life. The acting all round is superb, including a truly fine performance by Jodie Foster. This film is nothing short of spectacular, boasting a strong script, beautiful scenery and excellent direction. Overall, Nell is nothing short of breath taking. I strongly advise to see it. You won’t be disappointed.

  • ileana-suciu
    ileana suciu

    It was a great and simple story. Simply about a woman raised in the wild, unable to speak proper english due to her mothers stroke and she is trying to be brought into “civilisation”.Neeson and Foster are the stars of this film!! Not just because of their star status but they really showed talent in this film. Foster is brilliant as the vulnerable but independent Nell and Neeson is great as her “guardian angel”. This film has its funny bits but the ending… well if youre dead sensitive, get the tissues out. When Nell speaks in the courts, I was causing a flood!!!!I give it a 10/10. Definetly one to keep forever. Helen xxxxx

  • heloisa-rezende
    heloisa rezende

    I can’t think of another movie better than this one that I have seen anyway so I nominate it for a ten. The thing about great art is it engages the consciousness of the perceiver creatively with the same amount of energy the perceiver invests. That might sound like a lot of pseudo-babble so let me try again. What you see is what you get with great art–and this relationship happens unpretentiously. In an ideal creation there is nothing presumptuous about the art. No doubt there are moments of stereotypes, but these could be just as easily blamed on bad acting from the supporting cast, or simple lapses in composition. I don’t think anyone could seriously say stereotypes are a fundamental weakness of this flick, mainly because the use of stereotypes is serving a larger purpose to the story–at least as I see it. This is probably one of the most complex, multi-layered movies I have ever seen. We witness all the archetypes of good storytelling utilized in ever-meshing ways. How sexual violence is a fetish, and how an innocent mind sees it as simple playing. And in every scene we are given, the meaning of Foster’s character and what she represents grows. The ending under these terms is truly remarkable and frankly a surprise if witnessed representationally. I mean these are heavy comments on reality folks. I didn’t see the play the screenplay was based on, but over and over again I kept thinking “Who the hell wrote this thing? Who directed this?” It is masterful, and if you can’t see it that way, I don’t know, go read some books on critical theory, on the development of human consciousness, on Aristotle’s’s poetics, etc. It is counterpoint perfection–extremely well crafted, and a powerful commentary on not only our culture and “civilization,” but what it means to be human in this contemporary moment. Oh yeah, Jodi Foster is outstanding. We could make a case that she and her character are the center of this movie, except that it is the world unfolding around her that makes this such great drama. I think I have to go back to her Disney-era movies to think of a truly awful movie she has made. But that shouldn’t count either. I never thought those movies were all that bad, but then I simply watched them as a kid.

  • laura-kairys
    laura kairys

    remember this film, and subsequent VHS tape, getting a fair share of publicity when it was released. The story certainly was different and so interesting to me (on the first viewing) that Jodie Foster’s constant incoherent phrases didn’t bother me. They aggravated a lot of other viewers, however. However, after three looks at this film, I had had enough, too, not because of Foster but because this is a disturbing film. It’s not a lot of fun to watch. The fact I watched it three times tells you it’s pretty darned good.Liam Neeson played a no-nonsense good guy. Natasha Richardson also adds to this unique story. I would definitely recommend this film to first-time viewers but be wary it’s different and not always pleasant to see and hear. I don’t want to say more in fear of spoiling the story, but kudos to Foster for an outstanding effort.

  • bobylev-mokei-averianovich
    bobylev mokei averianovich

    My comments have little to do with the quality of the movie. However, I think it was exceptionally well done. I found myself wishing there was more to the story to fill in parts that seemed to be missing. Like the five year jump just before the last scene. So I found the book called ‘Nell’, which is based on the screenplay for the movie, and I read it. But the book added little to the story. Although my hunger for a more comprehensive story was not to be satisfied, I was more than compensated for this imagined shortcoming when I finally realized what the movie was really about. To me the essence of the story of ‘Nell’ is Nell’s ability to look deeply into a person’s eyes, to communicate from her soul to yours, letting you know absolutely that she cares about you. Although this ability of Nell’s constitutes only a small part of the story, I believe it is responsible for the miraculous recovery of the Sheriff’s wife from the depths of her long time depression. It also accounts for the effect Nell had on people in the courtroom. It is a human story. It is a spiritual story.

  • richard-khan
    richard khan

    Having never seen this film before, I “stumbled” on to it this morning about 10 minutes after it started on A&E and was so mesmerized that I watched the whole movie, and really liked it! It is well acted (Jodie Foster is INCREDIBLE), as is Natasha Richardson and Liam Neeson, and it’s just an all around GOOD movie. I recommend it very highly, and stopped short of giving it a “10” because it didn’t have one of those neat what-happened-to-her title-over endings, though the ending IS a good one.

  • monika-kavaliauskas
    monika kavaliauskas

    This film really surprised me, because it was really good. But it mostly surprised me, because I read here that this would be a drama and I must say I disagree. Drama stands for sadness and melancholy, whereas this film stood for humanism. I mean Nell is basically as happy as can be and who are we (the people in the film) to tell her that her way of life is not good? I know this might sound strange, but I see this film as a metaphor for human behavior. We reject what is not like us (race, religion, gender, sexual preference, skin color and so on) and think those people ought to be like us, because they are not ‘normal’. Well you tell me who is more normal: Nell or the people who want to put her away; Nell or the journalists; Nell or the boys in the bar? I will tell you: Nell, Nell and Nell. I can recommend this film to everyone and I hereby want to thank all people involved and especially Jodie Foster for her great performance. 7,5 out of 10

  • dzenis-kristiana
    dzenis kristiana

    I haven’t seen or read the play ‘Idioglossia’ on which this movie was based, but its title indicates where the emphasis was probably placed… on the attempt to communicate and understand this woman who was raised under extraordinary conditions. Movies don’t usually thrive when done in the same tight, focused manner of a stage play, so it’s customary to expand adaptations with additional locations, events, and subplots. Unfortunately for ‘Nell’ these are utterly conventional, filled with stereotypes and a sampling of the usual cliches. This takes time and attention away from the fascinating core story and the superb performance by Jodie Foster.The story begins with the discovery that a reclusive old woman has died and has left a grown daughter alone in their remote cabin. Originally she is thought to be a “wild child” since she doesn’t understand English and only utters what sounds like gibberish. Besides that, her behaviour is very peculiar and everyone’s first impression is that she is also somewhat retarded, if not mentally ill.But the movie and Foster display an understanding of their subject matter almost unique in a Hollywood movie. A true “wild child” (that is, a child who grows up isolated from human contact without learning a language) pretty much never can learn to speak normally or function independently in society. But this isn’t the case for Nell. She lived with her loving mother all her life and did indeed learn to speak as any child would. It’s just that the language we hear her speak is unique to herself (the definition of ‘idioglossia’) which was caused by a couple of different circumstances.Her mother had suffered a stroke (if I recall correctly) which drastically affected her own ability to speak clearly, and this was the model for Nell’s own speech, never having heard any other. Nell also had a twin sister who died when they were children. Typically twins develop their own language (“twin speech”) to talk to each other when they are very young. Also typically they tend to outgrow and forget this language as they grow older. The movie postulates that Nell and her sister never discarded their language, not implausible considering their circumstances, and that Nell retained into adulthood much of that language even after the death of her sister.The final elements of Nell’s seemingly odd behaviour is simply a matter of a clash of cultures. Nell and her family were essentially a people unto themselves, living in isolation and out of contact with the rest of society. Some of their customs and beliefs were generated from the traumas suffered by the mother, others spontaneously arose from simply living the life they were leading. These seem peculiar to outsiders from our own, very different, culture; though it’s just ordinary life to Nell. Even more peculiar is the outside world to Nell. The shock and recoil that she often undergoes comes from being suddenly confronted by inexplicable, unimagined, and overwhelming events totally beyond a lifetime’s experience and coming directly on the heels of the death of her mother.When the movie centers on these elements it is entirely engrossing. Foster is fully convincing in her role, and clearly understands the complex nature and history of Nell. Despite everyone’s first impressions, Nell is never anything but an intelligent adult woman confronting a strange and often hostile world, and attempting to adapt to it as best she can. Her interactions with Neeson’s and Richardson’s characters are often complex and traumatic enough to keep the film moving in the absence of the other, extraneous, elements.Had the movie concentrated more intently on this interaction and devoted more time to it, which is really the whole point of the film, or had it done a better and more original job of expanding it’s vision during it’s adaptation to film (those parts involving the sheriff’s wife showed unexploited potential), ‘Nell’ could have been a great film. Certainly the superb cinematography shows one of the great advantages of film over the stage. But there was too much time spent on weak scenes for the movie to ever fully blossom. So overall, despite its flaws, ‘Nell’ is a good film with many fascinating elements and an excellent performance by Jodie Foster. And that makes it well worth watching.

  • shaantaa-hegdde
    shaantaa hegdde

    I just watched this movie for the second time. One word: wow!This is one of the rare gems that you can tell when actors and actresses put everything into their performances, and actually go beyond the role. How can I tell? At the very end of the movie, the emotion of the moment that Jodie’s character feels towards the scene with the little girl reminding her of her lost sister is enough to make Jodie herself cry and wipe away a tear. Incredible. It’s very rare to see that level of immersion into a role where the actors involved feel real emotion about a scene. I’m willing to bet that moment of grace at the very end of the movie wasn’t scripted nor acted on Jodie’s part. You simply cannot get more heartfelt emotion into a scene than what was shown at the end of Nell. Brilliant and well-acted movie by all. A definite 10.

  • christopher-ward
    christopher ward

    In the late 1970s two young girls named Virginia and Grace Kennedy caused great interest in the academic disciplines of psychology and linguistics. The girls, identical twin sisters, had developed a private language quite incomprehensible to outsiders. Even after they had learnt English, they continued to communicate with each other in their secret language, which was partly a mixture of distorted English and the German that was their grandmother’s native tongue, but which also contained some inexplicable vocabulary items. This was an example of an uncommon, but not unprecedented, phenomenon known as ‘idioglossia’ or ‘cryptophasia’. ‘Nell’ tells the story of an even more extreme example of the same phenomenon. An eccentric and reclusive old woman named Violet Kellty is found dead in her home, a wooden cabin without electricity or running water in a remote mountain are of North Carolina. The local doctor, Jerry Lovell, visits the property to certify the death and discovers that, unknown to the community, Violet had a daughter, Nell, living with her. Nell is unable to speak English and can only speak an unknown language. Although in her late twenties, she has never been outside her home and the forests which surround it, and knows nothing of the outside world. A psychiatrist, Paula Olsen, sent to investigate the case, decides that Nell is mentally retarded, but Lovell, who is becoming increasingly fascinated by this strange young woman, contests this diagnosis. The judge responsible for deciding Nell’s future, decides that she should be kept under observation for three months so that more information can be obtained. Jerry and Paula move into the woods to observe, and gradually start to find out more about Nell’s past. They learn that she had a twin sister, May, who died as a child, and that her seemingly-strange speech is actually a mixture of distorted English learnt from her mother (who had a speech defect as the result of a series of strokes) and words remembered from a private language spoken with her twin. The question they have to resolve is whether Nell should be committed to a mental institution or allowed to continue her life in the woods. In order to do so, they find that they need to learn how to communicate with her. The most outstanding feature of the film is Jodie Foster’s performance in the title role- a remarkable one even by the standards of this talented actress. Throughout the film Foster speaks only in Nell’s unearthly-sounding private language, but is able to use this, together with gestures and facial expressions, to convey a full range of emotions. The nearest parallel is probably Marlee Matlin’s equally remarkable performance in ‘Children of a Lesser God’, another film about difficulties in communication. What emerges most powerfully here is the traumatic nature of Nell’s position- hitherto happy in her limited world, she is suddenly confronted with a range of people and situations she never knew existed. Foster certainly deserved her Oscar nomination; whether she deserved to win I cannot say, as I have never seen ‘Blue Sky’, the film for which Jessica Lange won the award. At the heart of the film is a triangular relationship between Nell, Jerry and Paula. Paula initially leans towards the view that Nell belongs in an institution, and clashes with Jerry who takes the opposite view, but as the film progresses she comes to share his opinion and his concern for Nell. The two first become friends and then fall in love, brought together by Nell, who forms the third side of the triangle. One can say that there are also love-relationships between Nell and Jerry and Nell and Paula, but because these relationships are platonic rather than sexual in nature they serve to bring Jerry and Paula together rather than divide them. This means that Jerry and Paula play key roles in the film; fortunately, Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson both play their parts very well, although in a more understated manner than Foster. Many of the criticisms which have been made of the film are, I believe, due to misconceptions. The film critic of The Guardian, for example, criticised it for being overly politically correct in its treatment of the ‘mentally challenged’. Apart from the fact that that is an odd criticism to find in a newspaper which is one of the strongest bastions of political correctness in Britain, it is made quite clear in the film that Nell is neither mentally ill nor mentally handicapped. She merely speaks a different language (both literally and metaphorically) from the rest of the world. Some have taken exception to the brief scenes of nudity, but the purpose of these is not eroticism, but rather to demonstrate Nell’s innocence.Another criticism which I have seen made of this film, both on this board and elsewhere, is that it is pushing a trite or simplistic ‘message’, normally along the lines of ‘nature is better than civilization’ or ‘ignorance is bliss’. In my opinion, this criticism is misconceived; ‘Nell’ is not a didactic film of that sort. Certainly, Nell herself has many admirable characteristics- gentleness, the ability to love and to be loved, a capacity for joy and a love of nature- but nowhere in the film is there any argument that one has to be ignorant or a feral child of nature in order to share these characteristics. If there are villains in the film they are not abstractions such as ‘civilisation’ or ‘modern society’, but rather those individuals who want to exploit Nell for their own ends- the journalist hungry for a scoop, the rowdy town youths who want to use her either for mockery or for sexual pleasure, and the academic Alexander Paley. Paley is keen to have Nell committed; he tries to justify this as objective concern for her welfare, but his motives are really self-seeking. He sees Nell as a first-class subject for research which will bring him kudos in the world of academia. What gives the film its power is not any obvious ‘message’ but its deeply poetic and spiritual tone, deriving both from the acting of the three central characters and the exquisite photography of the North Carolina landscapes. It is a film from which different viewers will draw different conclusions- some may see it, for example, as a religious allegory about the redeeming power of love, while others may view it in a more literal way. It may be too quiet and poetic for some tastes, but in my view this is an unjustly neglected work, one of the finest and most powerful films of the nineties. 10/10