Ellen Foster (TV Movie 1997) Poster

(1997 TV Movie)

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9/10
Jena Malone is magnificent.
Racingphan27 February 2021
Warning: Spoilers
Jena Malone as an abused little girl is just amazing. Maybe this struck me harder because of the past fostering that we did. Watching these older tv movies this weekend on Hallmark Drama just shows how limp and insipid the current day Hallmark movies are.
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er, 9.2 out of 10?
Goon-224 May 1999
I am usually a fan of Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movies, but this one failed to win my heart. At best, it was a SEMI- entertaining flick with Jena Malone playing a "troubled" girl (now is that creative or what?)who fails to get along with completely anybody. In other words, she's a complete little brat. If I want to see a movie about a troubled child, I will watch the first half of Jane Eyre. At least that one is entertaining and shows a vague human side behind all of Jane's "fiestiness." I failed to make the same connection with Ellen and that makes for a rather unlikeable little character and a none too likeable film. I'd give it a five out of ten at MOST.
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10/10
A great and moving performance
Watcher-3730 August 1999
Ellen Foster is the story of a 10 year old girl desperately searching for a true family to call her own. When her mother dies she is left with her father until taken away when the school learns he hits her. She stays with a teacher who volunteers to take her in and who gives her a taste of what a happy family could be like. This ends when her harridan of a grandmother lies in court by telling the judge that she wants custody. Turns out she just wants cheap slave labor, and she goes so far as to tell Ellen that she intends on making her pay for the death of her mother, though Ellen had nothing to do with anything that the father did to her. Soon the grandmother has a stroke and then dies. She is taken in by one of her aunts who is nicer than the grandmother but only on the surface. Ellen's cousin despises her and this situation soon leads to a fight that has Ellen leaving the house on Christmas Day to go to The Foster house. She thinks that the home is a family named Foster, but it is a woman who takes in girls that are unwanted or orphaned. Jena Malone as in her previous film, Bastard Out of Carolina, stars as the abused child, but rather than seem like the pedestrian movie of the week, it is a standout performance. She may still be considered a child actress, but it is very hard not to notice that she's got some great acting chops.
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10/10
A tour de force for Jena Malone
gkearns8 July 2000
Because the passage of years has a way of fogging most adults' memories of their own "childhoods" - especially in the intangible areas of feelings, hopes, hurts, decisions, goals, strategies, etc., they will often conclude that "children" are sort of non-sentient, non-human beings - blank pages in-putting a stream of data for use in their later, more important after metamorphosis existence. I read a review once of "The Cure", a movie starring young actors Joseph Mazzello and Brad Renfro, where a critic in a backhanded compliment called them "two of the best pre-actors around." I suppose that was because, being under twenty-one, they must be "pre-people." Judging by a few of Jena Malone's recent public remarks, not to mention her own real-life experiences, I'm sure she would object to such an attitude. Certainly, her film career belies that attitude. The movie "Ellen Foster" is a good case in point. In it she portrays an eleven year-old girl who, when buffeted by the cruelty and insensitivity of the supposed wise adult world responsible for her care, sets out determinedly to shape a world for herself that does make sense. Ellen belongs to no one but her own unique really human self.

However, it isn't just the character who achieves the point. More important, by her powerful performance, Miss Malone certainly proves she is an actor - and person - of substance. Her ability to read and interpret with such perception and sensitivity the inner being of Ellen as she goes through her trials and sets out on her steadfast quest is precisely on point. This movie is a tour de force for Jena Malone. In the field of acting, she takes a back seat to no one ... of any age.
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9/10
Jena is amazing!
Blizzy26 July 2001
I saw this movie last night for the first time on the Odyssey Channel, and it is on again now. I thought it was brilliant, and nobody could have matched the way Jena Malone brought Ellen to life. Jena is one of my favorite actresses (I've seen 3 of her movies this month!) and I have been a fan of hers for a long time. I think that this is one of her most powerful roles, and she did a great job in her portrayal as the child of an alcoholic father being shuffled from relative to relative after her mother dies. Jena is definitely going to be a major actress when she gets older, as her acting talents are unbelievable. :)
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10/10
Jena Malone shines!
elizabeth-323 February 2003
This is a beautiful story about a young girl's (Malone) search for a stable, permanent place to call HOME. After her mother dies, she's sent to a series of different homes. For one reason or another, none of them work out. Then something happens (I don't want to give away the story here) that gives her hope of finding the home she longs for. She displays extraordinary strength and courage throughout the film. Despite everything she's put through, she never gives up. This was a moving and inspirational film. Jena Malone is excellent, truly one of the finest young actors in the business. She gives an outstanding performance in this film. It worth seeing just for that, if nothing else.
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not about a brat....
ljs3mil30 August 1999
I was astonished to read the review characterizing Ellen as a "brat" who "couldn't get along with anybody." The title character in the story is sweet, gentle, and patient (although sometimes pushed to the point of frustration with people who repeatedly trample her.) She, in fact, gets along with everyone in the movie who is even slightly kind to her. The movie is a heartwarming and thought-provoking story that avoids being whiney or saccharrine-sweet.
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read the book
jude-2227 July 1999
i've read positive reviews of this program and only signed on here to counterpoint the first writer. EF is a brilliant little book and the title character is so far from being a brat that the first reviewer here sounds like one of ellen's relatives. i don't know how successful the film is in conveying the powerful combination of poverty and abuse that EF overcomes on her own, but the book is a dry-eyed treasure, just like its heroine.
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8/10
It's all about acting......
kmvtmaid3 January 2002
I think it'd be a fair assessment that most - heck, ALL Hallmark TV movies are guaranteed to send a message to the viewer, plucking the heartstrings the whole while. And that is certainly true of this movie as well. But this particular film has something special going for it that perhaps the others do not - and that is superlative acting. Young Jena Malone is a major talent who I hope will be given every opportunity to strut her stuff in the future. And Julie Harris is deliciously evil in her role as the Grandmother.

Ted Levine as the uncaring, self-centered alcoholic father....perfection! This is again a situation where the actor rises above the material to turn in a performance that another actor could have easily utilized for his best scenery chewing. Mr. Levine is one of the finest - and in my opinion - most underused actors around today. Let's just hope that for him, like Ms. Malone, every opportunity will be afforded him in the future to dazzle us with his outstanding ability. He simply shines in everything he does!

Did I like this film? You bet! Is it for everyone? Perhaps not - but see it for the ACTING, if nothing else. Enjoy.
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A Great movie, the Title character shines
Tally-229 August 1999
Anyone with a heart could not help but like this movie. There was not a dry eye in the room, as we watched the movie. Ellen Foster shines, whether she is smiling or crying in the movie. The emotion she is feeling is expressed without words. She is a bright and intelligent little girl, mature beyond her years because of her circumstances. Abused by her father and abandoned by her relatives, she overcomes the trials life hands her and finds a place to belong. Isn't that what all people strive for in the end?

I give this movie a ten out of ten. I would recommend that people view it with an open mind.

Jena Malone is an actress to look out for, she is very talented. No wonder she played a young Ellie in the Jodie Foster movie Contact. Her quality reminds me of Jodie Foster.
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10/10
Ellen Foster
littleann4822 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
If i didn't know this was a movie i swear i was watching my early life pass before my eyes. I cried so much out of her sadness but also cried cause of how heroic she was. She finally got the love and family she so deserved by the end of this wonderful film.

This was a well written book first of all of which i read. The film stayed right along with each and every character in the book. It was so wonderful and a little amusing as she rode past the house of which the family's name was not Foster as she had thought. Also how she gathered up some money for the family to help take care of her. And how she dressed in her best clothes and rode over to the house on a very cold winter's day.

This movie truly is worth watching over and over as i myself have done.
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