Once again, I was wandering through the movie section at the library as I do every time I visit our branch of literary satisfaction. (I’m beginning this post a little too formal, aren’t I?) The movie “Nell” was on my mind, and after looking the backside of the dvd over and being reminded that my favorite actor Liam Neeson was in it, along with the talent of Jodie Foster, and Liam’s wife, Natasha Richardson…I raced over to check it out. The story is set around a young woman named Nell (Foster), who is discovered by two eager doctors (Neeson and Richardson), who learn that this woman has been living in this cabin in the woods her entire life, and with no exploration of the outside world, has developed her own language, feelings, movement. To science, she is a discovery; to these doctors, she is the key to their hearts.
Well, obviously when I first read that summery I was curious to how the film would pull this story off! And honestly, I was surprised. A bit of history behind this film before moving onward with the review, though: Jodie Foster is a director, and was originally set to direct this drama. When she and the producers found the so-called perfect actress to play the part of Nell, they were surprised when she dropped out a few months before production. Then they cast Natasha Richardson in the lead, but weeks before shooting began, they switched to having Foster play the lead and Richardson to play one of the doctors. Foster convinced Michael Apted (“Coal Miner’s Daughter”, “Thunderheart”, “The World is Not Enough”, and more) to direct. So the casting of this film was a bit of an undertaking for these filmmakers. But it all worked out in the end, I would say.
Of course, one of the many things I look for in a movie is an original, unique story. This film provided a bit of both. Though it was…pretty easy to follow, “Nell” took on some unexpected twists and turns here and there, and you felt for her. The way it was written made you feel like you truly did know Nell. Like I said: you felt for her. You gotta appreciate a movie that is able to do that.
Onto a recognizable feat in this film: acting. I must say, by watching Jodie Foster’s performance…..she did great! Although she did not get many chances to, she was great at acting as though she was experiencing new things for the first time in her life!–like a child, she is innocent! And you are attached to her for that. (By the way, as a personal note: if you ever watch a Jodie Foster film, notice that she has long fingers…….that’s just a random thought coming from me). And of course, Liam Neeson did a great job in his towering, yet supportive role as a day-by-day doctor, just doing his job. His wife, Natasha Richardson did a pretty good job as well!
Actually, its pretty challenging to cast my review on this film. I enjoyed it, truly I did! At times, it almost had a haunting shadow to it, but brought about peace just as well. Nell showed to the characters as well to the audience that you don’t have to jump into our busy world to be happy. You find peace and happiness in friends, whom you love, and who love you back.
I am sure if you let this film sink in under your skin, you’d feel that way.
This film had fair success at the box office, grossing over the $100 million mark, which wasn’t to shavy for the mid-nineties. It was recognized at the awards season, but did not win anything. Its most success in nominations was for Best Actress to Jodie Foster, who even got an Oscar nomination. Personally, I believe she was skipped at the awards season because the festivals and associations thought two Academy Awards (for Best Actress) was enough (won them for “The Accused” in 1988, and for “Silence of the Lambs” in 1991). For this role, I think she deserved that Oscar, and Jessica Lange for “Blue Sky” didn’t need that statue on her mantelpiece (she’s the one who won ahead of Foster).
I’m going to try and start “rating” films with 1 to 7 stars now. That’ll be my star ratings, alright? This one for the present time, I’d give 4 Stars (on the verge of 5), and say I’d highly consider buying it.
If you are in the mood for a heart-felt drama, touching characters, great acting, and a interesting story set in the woodlands of North Carolina; pick up “Nell” next time you see it.