‘Phoebe In Wonderland': A Sundance Review

Article by Alyssa Vitrano

On the Line: I was at a Women in Film panel over the weekend, and Patricia Clarkson was talking about how the movie had 3 really strong female lead roles (played by her, Felicity Huffman and Elle Fanning). You never know if that means it’ll be chick flicky, but later an older guy was telling me he saw it and afterwards called his wife practically in tears saying how the film made him want to be a better father. Wow, ok. Was also curious to see if Elle Fanning was as freakily good as her sister Dakota.

In the Theater: The scenes with Elle and Felicity, who plays a writer whose trying to figure out what kind of disorder her daughter has, are completely heartbreaking. I was sitting next to an older man and we were both crying. But the scenes where the kids put on the Alice in Wonderland play go on way too long and feel like you’re at a grade-school production–only kids’ parents should have to sit through that.

Verdict: The mother-daughter scenes were incredibly strong, but the film’s a bit uneven. Felicity Huffman is brilliant–she always has a different and intelligent interpretation of her characters. And Elle Fanning definitely IS as freakily good as Dakota. (What was in their baby formula?) But in between all of the emotional scenes, you get a lot of kind of poor kid acting from the other children in the movie and the play scenes could’ve been much shorter. But overall, completely worth it for the riveting mother-daughter storyline.