Phoebe in Wonderland

Phoebe in Wonderland
Elle Fanning

Elle Fanning

Screen Time: 85%
Role: Phoebe Lichten
Age: 9 years old
Bailee Madison

Bailee Madison

Screen Time: 25%
Role: Olivia Lichten
Age: 8 years old


Phoebe in Wonderland

Rating: 9.6 (6 votes)
Directed: Daniel Barnz
Country: USA
Language: English
Genre: Drama

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The fantastical tale of a little girl who won't - or can't - follow the rules. Confounded by her clashes with the rule-obsessed world around her, Phoebe seeks enlightenment from her unconventional drama teacher, even as her brilliant but anguished mother looks to Phoebe herself for inspiration. "Phoebe in Wonderland" explores a young girl's self-discovery and her journey to find acceptance of her individuality.

Movie Reviews

Elle transcends

Nine-year-old Phoebe Lichten (Elle Fanning) is every parent's dream and nightmare—a talented child for whom school presents few challenges, but also a troubled girl prone to flights of fancy and self-abuse. She cannot process the real world, in which she finds no "hope," so instead loses herself in a make-believe one: Wonderland, courtesy of the drama teacher (Patricia Clarkson), who encourages the lost little kid to "jump" lest she suffer a more brutal fall. And yet, even as Alice wandering a magical kingdom, Phoebe's condition deteriorates; her parents, writers played by Felicity Huffman and Bill Pullman, find it easier to blame themselves than to allow outsiders (shrinks, principals, drama teachers) to interpret the source of Phoebe's anguish.

A Lifetime Network production, writer-director Daniel Barnz's film is profoundly stirring, if also occasionally maddening; its excursions into whimsy (Phoebe in conversation with the Mad Hatter and Red Queen, say) are clumsy, like scenes from Coraline injected into a far more serious drama about the fine line between illumination and despair. Yet the performances are transcendent—especially Fanning's, as the little girl who wants to get better, who wants to be better, as she slowly disappears through the Looking Glass.