Phoebe in Wonderland
Directed by Daniel Barnz
A little girl learns life isn’t a fairy tale.
“Think of Phoebe in Wonderland as A Beautiful Mind, only for kids,” said Michael O’Sullivan in The Washington Post. In this drama from first-time director Daniel Barnz, a troubled 9-year-old loses herself in the lead role of her school’s Alice in Wonderland production. Elle Fanning—Dakota’s little sister—shows off her acting chops in the “Russell Crowe role of the gifted outsider, tormented by demons from within.” Fanning’s “transcendent” performance makes this film, said Robert Wilonsky in The Village Voice. At first, her character seems merely to be an imaginative, somewhat introverted child, but soon her specialness starts to look a lot like obsessive-compulsive disorder. Though “occasionally maddening,” the film is an examination of the pros and perils of being an outsider. Barnz’s “child-like whimsy” isn’t quite up to the serious themes he’s chosen, said Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times. This leaves Phoebe in Wonderland suffering from an “identity crisis,” and audiences may wonder whether it is a “parable for adults or a fable for children.”