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Nell (1994)

Jodie Foster , Liam Neeson , Michael Apted  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (208 customer reviews)

Price: $9.98 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Jodie Foster, Liam Neeson, Natasha Richardson, Richard Libertini, Nick Searcy
  • Directors: Michael Apted
  • Writers: Mark Handley, William Nicholson
  • Producers: Jodie Foster, Graham Place, Renée Missel
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Fox Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: February 3, 2004
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (208 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00013RC84
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,715 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Nell" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Behind-the-scenes featurette

Editorial Reviews

When doctor Jerry Lovell (Liam Neeson, Oscar - nominee for "Schindler's List") discovers a young woman living alone in the backwoods of North Carolina, he is intrigued by her erratic behavior and unique pattern of speech. Together with a psychologist (Natasha Richardson), Lovell determines to pierce Nell's private world and protect her from the courts - and a life of scientific study. In a race against time and a system bent on shattering her spirit, he finds that the woman whose way of life he has sought to protect, has transformed his own forever.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
87 of 91 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
While Hollywood is filled with movie stars, it can boast of only a scant few bona fide actresses. Jodie Foster, the consummate professional, is the cream of that small crop, and I respect no other actor or actress on earth as much as I respect her. Nell is a testament to her unlimited talent as well as her unmatched commitment to what she does. The character of Nell is a role most actresses would never consider taking; it's a far too difficult challenge to meet for a film that holds little promise to bring in money hand over fist. For Jodie Foster, though, what matters is the story to be told, not the glamour or the projected box office receipts. She gives an absolutely amazing performance in this film, one that has deserved far more attention than it has received; as I write this, there is not even a DVD version of the film available. If Nell is mentioned at all, it is almost always in reference to Jodie's Foster nudity in the film, and I would like to say straight out that her nudity is very tastefully done, important if not absolutely necessary for the story, and in no way provocative.
Nell is a poignant, emotional drama that saddens as well as inspires you; it is the kind of tearjerker in which your tears of empathy and concern are accented by a smile and sense of heartwarming joy. The story is set deep in the wilderness of western North Carolina, where an old woman has lived for years all by herself. People always thought she lived alone, at least, until she died and the local doctor discovered a pitiful woman-child hiding inside the shack, the only home she had ever known.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warm and magical May 12, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
In "Nell," Jodie Foster wows us, as usual, with a deeply felt, passionate performance. She is Nell, the "wild child" daughter of a backwoods aphasic hermit woman, who raised her all alone with no human contact. Nell's speech is all her own -- it is a striking combination of a private language she had once shared with her deceased identical twin sister, and an imitation of her mother's speech. Her mother, as I mentioned earlier, had aphasia, which includes major speech processing problems. Nell's speech was the basis for the title of the play upon which this film was based -- "Idioglossia." (I believe, for anyone out there who's into things like this, that the correct term would have been "idiolect," as the term for a language spoken by only one person.) Natasha Richardson and Liam Neeson bring constant love and warmth to Nell, and to the film, as medical/social-work professionals who attempt to break through to Nell by trying to learn her language. In the background lurk The Media, and The Scientific Establishment, both of which threaten at any moment to swoop in and make Nell's life miserable. The film builds to a heartrending and passionate, albeit rather unrealistic, courtroom self-defence speech by Nell, in which she calls the precepts of modern civilization itself into question.
Liam Neeson's performance is described by one of the editorial reviewers on this page as being "at his teddy bear best." I think that sounds slightly emasculating -- he put more positive, warm energy into this film than many actors project in their entire careers. Show some appreciation! Come on!
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply moving ... August 4, 2004
This is the story of Nell, a child of rape, raised out in the wilderness by her mother. Hidden away from the world, she is raised by a mother who has had several strokes and is aphasic (can't speak well). As a result of her isolation, she learns a form of English that sounds like gibberish.

When the elderly woman dies, Nell is left alone in the wilderness. She is terrified when people come to the house and she is found. She is deemed a "Wild Child". Enter Liam Neeson as the local visiting doctor and Natasha Richardson as a research psychologist that the doctor contacts. They study Nell closely and they both have different goals for her as the story unfolds.

To say much more would most certainly ruin the movie ...

This movie was compelling, deeply moving, and finally deeply satisfying. It will linger in your mind for days and days after viewing it. This movie is a keeper and may become a classic in the years to come. EXCELLENT.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing story with a truly great performance (Foster) December 28, 1998
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
The main thing I want to say is that this film contains one of the greatest, most haunting and truly memorable acting performances I have seen on film, and anyone interested in great acting should see it just for that reason.
The story is also a lot more sophisticated than most. It is based on a play or story by the same person who wrote the screenplay for Shadowlands (which was also a beautiful and haunting movie, although very different from this). I believe the title of the original story was "Idioglossia," which conveys something of the fundamental idea. Idioglossia refers to the condition of speaking a "private language." Philosophers such as Wittgenstein have debated whether it is even possible to have a completely private language, since a language is designed to communicate, i.e. to share meaning with others, while a private language would defeat that intention. However, it is known that identical twins do sometimes create semi-private languages which allow them to communicate with each other, to the exclusion of all other human beings. In addition, when people grow up in very unusual circumstances, this may affect their speaking in ways that cause them to be unintelligible to others and even to be perceived as crazy and incompetent.
NELL deals with these issues in a context that calls into question some of the premises of law, "mental health" and modern psychological research. The plot is contrived and simplistic in some ways. The penultimate scene in the courtroom requires some suspension of disbelief, although I found that it was both powerfully acted and beautifully written -- if one was willing to take it on its own terms.
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