Problem Pictures

film 5 of 5

Phoebe in Wonderland

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 16, 2015

This is a helpful movie, probably, working sincerely to portray a troubled kid’s inner life in a way that honours her independence and vulnerability and sufficiency. And clichés and sarcasm aside, there’s nothing wrong with disease of the week programming. But this still feels kind of inappropriate. It’s that Noah Baumbach situation—the idea is one thing, but when you involve an actual minor in the portrayal of trauma and trouble, you’re in danger of really traumatizing her. Ms. Fanning is really quite stupendous in this role, but there’s got to be one of two things operating here. Either she’s Jackie Coogan, 1921, or a robot. Either way, whether they’re terrifying her or hollowing her out, it’s unseemly.

I found Ms. Huffman’s acclaimed performance to be deeply indulgent, even unpleasant. That may just be me. Campbell Scott, on the other hand, is a genius. Also, the Alice stagings, on stage and in the dreams they stage, are quite good, if not as conceptually integrated as they seem to think.