What You Need To Know:
(B, L, V, NNN) Biblical perspective -- positive references to "the Lord," Bible verses read, strong encouragement of unselfish giving & compassion for those needing understanding & help; 5 obscenities; Nell hits & kicks trespassers near her cabin; and, extensive nudity, though naturalistic & not in a sexual context.
In NELL, two time Academy Award winner Jodie Foster is producer and star of a film about a young woman whose entire life has been lived in a remote cabin in the woods. Nell was raised by a reclusive mother whose speech patterns were damaged by a series of strokes. Subsequently, Nell was forced to invent her own language, dubbed “Nellish.” After her mother’s death, the girl is discovered by civilization. She falls into the hands of a rural doctor (Liam Neeson, of SCHINDLER’S LIST) and a psychologist (Natasha Richardson) who dispute what is best for this wild child. Is it fair to her to perform a psychological dissection and disrupt her contentment to gain scientific understanding of the impact of modern media and culture on a consciousness which is a blank slate? Neeson and Richardson find their own lives and values changing as they interact with Nell, who experiences the world with all her senses, not just her mind.
The movie is well directed by Michael Apted who manages to walk a fine line in unfolding a poignant story without becoming overly melodramatic. The cinematography is superb. Foster shines particularly in scenes in which Nell seeks to express herself in her incommunicable language. However, nude scenes (though naturalistic and not sexual) and improbable plot development detract from an otherwise well-made film.