Wednesday, April 22, 2009

phoebe in wonderland

As I've mentioned earlier, I'm an avid moviegoer. I'll even compromise my normally high standards some weekends (when the new releases are somewhat "iffy") and see some pretty marginal films. "Dragonball Evolution" is one example. Normally, I don't sing the praises of many films unless I find them truly exceptional. This weekend I had the opportunity to see one such film, "Phoebe in Wonderland." It is a gem of a movie that first showed at the Sundance Film Festival two or three years ago and has since had some difficulties in distribution. The film revolves around Phoebe (Elle Fanning), a troubled, but gifted nine-year old. When Phoebe's mother (Felicity Huffman) is summoned to school to address an "incident" involving Phoebe, she chooses to ignore the misgivings voiced by the principal (and later, Phoebe's psychologist). She does not want to stifle Phoebe's creativity and dull her spirit through medication. Sadly, Phoebe's behavior escalates and we witness the pain and suffering that begins to unfold around her as a consequence. Wonderland, it turns out, is the only place where Phoebe can find solace and comfort.

The cast also includes Bill Pullman, Campbell Scott and the always brilliant Patricia Clarkson as Phoebe's drama teacher. During the screening, I became aware of somebody sobbing several rows behind me during the more emotionally resonant scenes. I probably would have responded similarly had I not been distracted by those outbursts. At the end, I had to turn around to identify the perpetrator. Much to my surprise, the source of all that sobbing originated from a rather burly middle-aged bald man! None of us are evidently immune to the suffering of a nine year-old girl.

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