It was screened in the Dramatic Competition at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, and received a limited theatrical release on March 6, 2009.
The film tells a story of a 9 year old girl, Phoebe (Elle Fanning), with apparent Tourette syndrome.While she deals with being odd and insecure, her mother (Felicity Huffman) and father (Bill Pullman) are dealing with complexities in their relationship with each other and their challenging child. Her younger sister (Bailee Madison) feels neglected as Phoebe gains more attention.
Phoebe seeks a role in her school's play, Alice In Wonderland, directed by her school's off-beat drama teacher, Miss Dodger (Patricia Clarkson). Phoebe flourishes on stage, relaxing and feeling normal, but her impulsive speech and behavior persist off stage. Her parents hire a therapist for her, but after he proposes medication, Phoebe's mother fires him. She does not want to accept that there is anything wrong with Phoebe; when the principal questions if Phoebe behaves oddly outside of the classroom, her mother denies it even though she has many times witnessed her daughter's self-destructive rituals at home. When Phoebe is taken out of the play due to her classroom behavior, her dreams are shattered. Her mother, desperate to help her daughter feel normal, works with the drama teacher to bring Phoebe back on stage.
Although Phoebe is put back into the play, her challenges continue as she is driven to behavior she doesn't understand. She hurts herself jumping off the catwalk onto the stage, and the drama teacher is fired. Phoebe's fellow-actors descend into chaos, but Phoebe alone clings to a sense of purpose. She urges her classmates to continue their rehearsals on their own, and they do. Her mother, who has resisted efforts to label Phoebe, tells Phoebe that she has Tourette syndrome, and Phoebe helps her classmates understand her by explaining the condition to them.
- Elle Fanning as Phoebe Lichten, a girl with tourette syndrome.
- Felicity Huffman as Hillary Lichten, Phoebe's mother. Afraid of Phoebe's actions and diagnosis until the end of the film. Huffman also appears as the Red Queen in Phoebe's fantasy scenes.
- Patricia Clarkson as Miss Dodger, the drama teacher at Phoebe's school.
- Bill Pullman as Peter Lichten, Phoebe's father. Pullman also appears as the Queen of Hearts in Phoebe's fantasy scenes.
- Bailee Madison as Olivia Lichten, Phoebe's younger sister. Close at first, the sisters draw apart as Phoebe's symptoms progress.
- Campbell Scott as Principal Davis, the head of Phoebe's school. Does not understand either Phoebe or Miss Dodger. Scott also appears as the Mad Hatter in Phoebe's fantasy scenes.
- Ian Coletti as Jamie Madison, Phoebe's only friend.
- Peter Gerety as Dr. Miles, Phoebe's therapist. Later dismissed by Hillary. Gerety also appears as Humpty Dumpty in Phoebe's fantasy scenes.
- Madhur Jaffrey as Miss Reiter, Phoebe's homeroom teacher. Jaffrey also appears as the Knave of Hearts in Phoebe's fantasy scenes.
- Caitlin Sanchez as Monica, one of Phoebe's classmates. Plays the White Queen in the play at Phoebe's school.
- Maddie Corman as First Teacher/White Rabbit
- Max Baker as Second Teacher/King of Hearts
- The film was submitted for the Sundance Film Festival of 2008.
- This movie is Elle Fanning's first lead role in a feature film.
- The first draft of the script was written a year before Fanning was born.
- Shown at the RiverRun International Film Festival in 2008
Awards and nominations
On January 14, 2010, the film was nominated for Outstanding Film – Wide Release – at the 21st GLAAD Media Awards.