Phoebe In Wonderland


With the proximity of the much-anticipated Alice In Wonderland, something I am doubtful about, I choose to look back at a film, which shows more inspiration from the classic book then just the name. Phoebe in Wonderland (2009) follows Phoebe Lichten (Elle Fanning) as she develops OCD like symptoms amidst her debut in her school’s theater. Her family struggles with her new condition and debates over confusing relationships between husband/wife and siblings. Phoebe confuses wonderland and real land as she tries to pass in an ever-pessimistic environment. A glimmer of hope for Phoebe takes the shape of the wide-eyed theater instructed Miss Dodger (Patricia Clarkson).

For an emblematic symbol of childhood and adolescence, Phoebe in Wonderland takes an adult approach to inter-family relationships. The mother, Hilary (Felicity Huffman), dawns a horrendous wig stolen from the set of Transamerica but commands a stellar performs similar to that of her much younger costar, Elle. Felicity cries her way through wanting to connect and understand with her daughter’s struggle and battling her own struggle with wanting to feel fulfilled. Hilary plays the victim even as she sees one daughter self-harm herself and the other resent the family priorities.

Elle Fanning plays the role of the Alice wannabe amazingly. Besides the physical similarities between the two characters, Phoebe and Alice share a common distance from reality, which Elle portrays perfectly. Her naive gaze at a problem she does not understand and a family that tried to help but does not know what to do adds to this actress’ first leading role. The mirage of ‘wonderland’ characters exhibited throughout Phoebe’s story aid in the already immaculate interpretation of Phoebe.

Although set in the fictional realm of a girls imagination the film takes an unrealistic approach to the intelligence of the young cast. Early on, Phoebe’s young sister, who is seven, proclaims Mozart wrote his first sonata at six so she was behind the time. Although played off as a joke, the young cast must attend a school of the gifted. It is the only explanation for these ten-year-olds to comprehend themes and interpretations adults barely grasp. Dawson’s Creek must have inspired the screenwriter because the ensemble understands words far advance for a newly double digiters.

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