Dede is a sole parent trying to bring up her son Fred. When it is discovered that Fred is a genius, she is determined to ensure that Fred has all the opportunities that he needs, and that ... See full summary »
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 <email@example.com>
Foster works admirably hard, but film is unenlightening and not too convincing...
Young woman, raised in total isolation in the backwoods of North Carolina by her mother (who had suffered strokes 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 an eye on their careers get involved and, figuring the girl to be a mentally retarded 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 (or entertainment value), just annoyance. The picture has a cold, flat look, and Jodie Foster (a highly intelligent actress) rarely gets to use her brains; she's beautifully pale and dreamy-eyed one minute, a ferocious animal the next, and the transitions are jarring. Natasha Richardson, as the doctor who would initially like to see Nell act like just like the rest of us, gets stuck with the worst role (all she ever seems to ask is, "So what are we gonna do about Nell?"). Many of the doctors are written and acted to be the villains of the piece (right about on a par with the ignorant roadhouse yahoos who make fun of Nell), and the director (the estimable Michael Apted) can't seem to get around the daunting clichés. Foster provides a few lovely moments, especially when showing off her expressive hands in close-up, and there's a touching final shot of her knowing, gentle face, but the movie itself just goes around in circles. ** from ****
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