Nell #AutismMovie

Nell, played by Jodie Foster, is the story of an apparently feral young woman.

Nell is discovered living in a cabin on the edge of a lake in the North Carolina woods, after the death of her mother.


Dr. Jerry Lovell (Liam Neeson) contrasts wonderfully with Dr. Paula Olsen (Natasha Richardson) and their 3 month Judicially prescribed observation of Nell, in her natural habitat, is as much a discovery of themselves and each other as it is about learning about and to connect with Nell.

Jodie Foster’s portrayal in a role with limited cinematic precedent is magnificent.

I found myself very intellectually engaged for most of the film, but particularly in the extended scenes where Dr. Lovell (Neeson) is reaching out to, connecting with and then communicating with Nell, in her own unique language.

I saw a lot of myself in Dr. Lovell as I do in most of Liam Neeson’s film characters that I have seen, so my perspective may be a little skewed.


Quite aside from the story, the scenery in the movie is absolutely spectacular.

I believe this was a deliberate device used to help keep our focus on the beautiful innocence of Nell and the powerful sensory connection she had with the World.


Autism is only mentioned twice and very briefly on both occasions, but by neither Neeson nor Richardson

  • Firstly when the Hospital team rule out ‘low functioning Autism’ (which she clearly is not)
  • Secondly, when the Hospital team grasp (seemingly desperately) at Asperger’s Syndrome

Nell was made in 1994, the same year as Forrest Gump and Silent Fall and the year Asperger’s was first included in the DSM!


Nell’s exact condition, or set of conditions is never labeled, let alone elaborated on, although the causes are clearly shown.

I have included this movie with my Autism movie reviews because it is a story of triumph in overcoming huge obstacles to communication and human connection, which is in large part what Autism really is, at least in my experience.


Here’s the Official movie trailer


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