Associated Press
In this image released by the Sundance Film Festival, Elle Fanning is shown in a scene from "Phoebe in Wonderland."

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — Elle Fanning follows in her older sister Dakota's precocious footsteps with a star turn in the film "Phoebe in Wonderland."

In the movie, which had its world premiere over the weekend at the Sundance Film Festival, Fanning's character sees a therapist and says things like, "Are you always supposed to feel hope?"

The 9-year-old plays Phoebe Lichten, an insular and imaginative girl who signs up to play the lead in her school's performance of "Alice in Wonderland." At one point, she envisions her therapist as Humpty Dumpty sitting on a wall, and calls out to him, "I need help!"

The film features strong performances by Felicity Huffman and Bill Pullman as Lichten's parents, and Patricia Clarkson as her quirky drama teacher Mrs. Rodgers.

Fanning spoke after the premiere about getting in character for a key scene in which she breaks into tears in Huffman's arms. Writer-director Daniel Barnz said Fanning told the crew not to be offended if she wasn't friendly on the day the scene was shot.

"I was just more quieter, then after the scene ... I was all energized up," Fanning said. "After being quiet all day, I was just laughing and more normal."

Barnz said he wrote the first draft of "Phoebe in Wonderland" a year before Elle Fanning was even born. The movie is part of the festival's dramatic competition and as of Monday had not been purchased by a distributor.

Elle Fanning's appearance came a year after 13-year-old Dakota caused a stir at the festival by appearing as a young rape victim in the film "Hounddog."