Phoebe in Wonderland


Devotees of Lewis Carroll’s beloved children’s classic “Alice in Wonderland” series will be sure to seek out tickets to writer/director Daniel Barnz’s cinematically dazzling tea party which draws numerous parallels to Carroll’s work.

At a crossroads between acceptable childhood innocent curiosity and imaginative exploration mixed with peculiar Alice-like behavior, we follow the tale of the sensitive nine year old Phoebe (Elle Fanning), as her tendency to live in her creative mind is beginning to baffle her classmates, teachers, and parents (Bill Pullman and Felicity Huffman). When she’s given the lead role in the school’s theatrical production of “Alice in Wonderland” by her unorthodox new drama teacher Ms. Dodger (Patricia Clarkson) who likens herself to the Mad Hatter, Phoebe becomes increasingly drawn in by the play, which is coincidentally the same topic of her mother’s scholarly dissertation turned nonfiction work.

Mistaking her daughter’s erratic mannerisms as a cry for motherly attention, Hilary Lichten (Felicity Huffman) tries to intervene when Phoebe runs into trouble with her strict principal (Campbell Scott), however when it becomes apparent that Phoebe is going through something more than just a fleeting fascination with Alice’s “looking glass,” those around her realize they need to stop listening to themselves and start listening to Phoebe.

Tenderly drawn, heartfelt, and filled with gripping portrayals from its ensemble cast, Barnz’s Wonderland was screened in a highly successful premiere at the Sundance Film Festival before it was singled out by several critics as one of the festival’s hidden gems.