During my exam period I had only little time for movies, but I managed to squeeze a few of them in. One of them was ‘Nell’. And man, what a movie that was…
The story revolves around the title character that has been raised in an isolated cabin in the woods. When her mother dies, she is found by Doctor Jerry Lovell. Before you know it Paula Olsen, a psychologist, comes meddling in and the two start observing the peculiar human being. Nell seems to be able to take care of herself despite the fact that she doesn’t have any civilized experience. They discover she in fact speaks a personal form of the English language and Lovell starts to communicate with her. Although Nell is hysterical at the first meeting, it’s not long before a peculiar but special bond starts to form. We come across several complications when Nell explores the real world and the people in it, and conclude a bitter-sweet ending.
Jodie Foster takes on the title character and Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson complete the cast.
Movies like this don’t get made a lot. It’s a serious gamble to engage in such a different project. I mean, who would want to go to a movie about a woman seeing the real world for the very first time when you can see vampires slashing each other or the newest Jennifer Aniston movie? Yes, ‘Nell’ sure is a gem in this world of old stories and tired clichés.
Jodie Foster is just a-ma-zing as Nell. I mean, how much can someone relate to a hermit? It had to be a serious challenge, but I can’t imagine her or anyone else having it done any better. I always knew she was a good actress but this just astonished me. She portrays Nell with a great deal of innocence. Technically, Nell is a wild woman but she possesses over such humanly traits that we’re able to understand and sympathize. Even the odd peculiarities that become obvious can be written off to her sense of love and fear. Liam Neeson wasn't anything special but he managed to create a nice character of compassion with the minor importance he was given. Natasha Richardson was a typical "pretty girl", but I still cherish her performance. There were some heartfelt scenes between the two supporting actors. One scene in particular was hard to watch considering Natasha and Liam got married the same year 'Nell' was made and the fact that she died so tragically.
Although professional critics weren’t that impressed by this film, I was. The best thing about the film has to be Foster's performance, but the story kept me fascinated until the end credits were rolling. I realize that some things were imperfect and maybe even a bit unrealistic, but at the end of the day ‘Nell’ is a beautiful picture that tells us that our way is not the only way.