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Nell (1994)

PG-13 | | Drama | 23 December 1994 (USA)
2:16 | Trailer

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In a remote woodland cabin, a small town doctor discovers Nell - a beautiful young hermit woman with many secrets.



(play), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Paula Olsen
Alexander Paley
Todd Peterson
Robin Mullins ...
Mary Peterson
Billy Fisher
Don Fontana
Heather M. Bomba ...
Twin #1
Marianne E. Bomba ...
Twin #2
Mike Ibarra
Stephanie Dawn Wood ...
Ruthie Lovell
Mary Lynn Riner ...
Janet Baring
Lucile McIntyre ...


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. Written by Tony Kessen <rhkessen@cs.vu.nl>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Her heart. Her soul. Her language are a mystery...A mystery called Nell. See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

23 December 1994 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Una mujer llamada Nell  »

Box Office


$31,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£902,923 (UK) (17 March 1995)


$33,592,700 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


As part of her preparation for the role, Jodie Foster read the same books that François Truffaut read when he was prepping his similarly themed film The Wild Child (1970). Foster, being fluent in French, read them in their original language. See more »


(at around 12 mins) Nell swims in the nude, but when on the shore and dancing, she has on underwear. See more »


Paula: What is it with you and Nell?
Jerry: It's like... there's no one else in the world. Like she doesn't need anybody. Can you live your whole life that way, or does it drive you crazy in the end?
See more »


Referenced in Will & Grace: Last of the Really Odd Lovers (2001) See more »


Written by Willie Nelson
Performed by Patsy Cline
Courtesy of MCA Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

13 July 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

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.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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