The backwoods of North Carolina is where Nell (Jodie Foster) lives, all alone. She has her own form of language and no idea of a world beyond her small plot of land. Then civilization enters her life in the form of two doctors (Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson), who discover the untamed wild child. Now that they have come to study her, Nell's life will never be the same again--but neither will theirs. Based on Mark Handley's play IDIOGLOSSIA, which means a language for one, NELL is an intriguing look at a person who has grown up without any contact with the modern world--like the famous wild boy of Aveyron portrayed in François Truffaut's WILD CHILD. Foster is excellent in delivering Nell's unique language and body movements, while Neeson and Richardson are intense in their sparring over how Nell should be treated. For eclectic director Michael Apted, this film is just one of several (COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER and GORILLAS IN THE MIST) he has made about women who are not easily categorized. NELL is also the first film from Foster's production company, Egg Pictures.
Jodie Foster - American Actress/Director, NELL (1994)
Liam Neeson - Irish actor, EXCALIBUR/SCHINDLER'S LIST
Natasha Richardson - British actress
Jon Hutman - Production Designer, FRENCH KISS (1995)
John Hutman - Production Designer, FRENCH KISS (1995)
Michael Apted - British Director/Producer
Dante Spinotti - Director of Photography
Susan Lyall - Costume Designer
Jim Clark - Editor
William Nicholson - Screenwriter
Richard Libertini - American Supporting Actor
Mark Isham - Composer, WATERWORLD (1995)
A woman who has lived in the wild with hardly any human contact is discovered by a pair of scientists. They try to study her and decipher her language and her amazing story, ultimately learning more about themselves.
Theatrical release: December 14, 1994. Shot on location in North Carolina. NELL grossed nearly $34 million at the domestic box office and over $106 million worldwide. Jodie Foster spent months with screenwriter William Nicholson coming up with a unique language called Nellish. The film features one of the first screen appearances of Jeremy Davies. "Women's stories are about what really goes on in society--whether they're chasing gorillas, challenging law courts, breaking out of poverty or establishing copanies, women and their problems are more potent than the problems of men. They are far more complex and interesting."--Michael Apted, in an interview with the Guardian (U.K.) from February 22, 1995. In part, his attention to women in his films redresses a lack of female voices he perceived in his famous SEVEN UP series. "I told Natasha going in that I thought her mother [Vanessa Redgrave, whom Apted worked with on AGATHA] was the best actress pound for pound in the world and she should understand that. That she would never, in my mind, be up to her mother--nobody could--and she understood that and I think she was pleased."--Apted in his interview with the Guardian. In the same interview with the Guardian, Apted compared two female student activists in MOVING THE MOUNTAIN to Nell. "Women have a remarkable ability to approach a problem cerebrally, as did these two students, and they they can somehow put that intellectualising to one side, and connect with what goes on inside them. For the students, their principles and their emotional pains is part of their whole being. Jodie Foster showed the same qualities when we were shooting NELL. Her performance comes from somewhere beyond her brain. It comes from inside herself. I think that is women's complexity."
"...Ethereal visuals..." - 02/03/1995 USA Today, p.4D
"...Foster gives an audacious performance..." - 01/13/1995 Entertainment Weekly, p.41
"...By the time NELL is over, Foster's passionate performance will make almost everyone believe..." - 12/14/1994 Los Angeles Times, p.F1
"...NELL is an effective film, and a moving one. That is largely because of the strange beauty of Jodie Foster's performance..." - 12/23/1994 Chicago Sun-Times, p.33