We review and see why Phoebe in Wonderland side stepped the theatres and advanced straight into the Dramatic Competition at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.
An article by Penny C
The protagonist in Phoebe in Wonderland is Phoebe Litchen (Elle Fanning) who’s the adorable yet unusually matured 9 year old dressed in darling pinafore dresses and capricious striped socks. The movie opens with colourful playful peeks into the girl’s room filled with vibrant tresses and sashes, carousels, geometric shapes and of course, adorned with much whimsicality.
The child’s curiosity and matured sense of right from wrong quickly establishes her as a unique individual as she’s the only one who questions her teachers’ debatable statement of “ when’s the right time to ask questions ”. Perceptibly, Phoebe doesn’t get her answers. Her behaviour leaves even her writer mother, Hillary Lichten (Felicity Huffman), at a loss for words no matter how much she tries to help her child.
An equally off-beat drama teacher Miss Dodger (Patricia Clarkson) joins the school and both mentor and student instantly connects, where she soon becomes Phoebe’s inspiration. Miss Dodger realises’ Phoebe’s flair for imagination and her emotional attachment to the character she is auditioning for – Alice, in the school’s rendition of “Alice in Wonderland”. On stage, Phoebe thrives on the freedom of creativity and its path to a fantasy land where time feels like a constant stream of dreamy, fleeting moments.
Like the only sunflower in a garden of identical daises, Fanning is absolutely enchanting in this film. Her pixie features and dramatic abilities work together so perfectly to bring across a mellow youth griped with the incessant motor and vocal ticks of this Tourette’s syndrome. Written and directed by Daniel Barnz, he cleverly meshes the innocence of the original fairytale with reality’s brazen truth. Phoebe in Wonderland is both insightful and uplifting. It carefully unfolds the multi-coloured facets of a little girl’s exceptionality and individuality even though her life is ensnared with the crippling oddities of an incurable neuropsychiatric disorder.
Phoebe in Wonderland Trailer
Yup!: The quirky weaving of fairytale and realism
oh.: Douche bag grown ups
Verbatim: Miss Dodger encouraging Phoebe to plunge her stage character – “Go on, jump.”
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