Bringing A Wrinkle in Time to life on the big screen is no easy task. Director Ava DuVernay (Selma, 13th) takes on the challenge though. While the film is far from perfect and certain complexities are lost, DuVernay delivers a heartfelt film about love and acceptance of oneself. Gorgeously shot with some emotional and touching moments, A Wrinkle in Time is a wondrous journey that most especially feels impactful in its second half.
Meg Murry (Storm Reid) is still struggling to come to terms with her father, Alex Murry’s (Chris Pine), disappearance four years ago. A scientist obsessed with finding the “wrinkle” between our world and the rest of the universe, his disappearance has Meg convinced that, while gone, he’s not dead. Meg faces bullies at school, teachers who are quick to gossip, and feelings of insecurity. Her brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), is a hopeful child who has found three eccentric women, Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), and Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), who confirm that Meg’s father is lost in the universe and encourage her, Charles Wallace, and Meg’s schoolmate Calvin (Levi Miller), to come with them in order to find him.
A Wrinkle in Time sets its sights on being more of a coming-of-age film folded into a sci-fi/fantasy adventure rather than a film hellbent on exploring more of the world and darkness beyond its own singular mission. The book itself, written by Madeleine L’Engle and adapted to film by Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell, is difficult to adapt and so it’s certainly easier to digest this way. However, this also makes a couple of major events in the film move a bit too quickly while also oversimplifying certain aspects of the plot in terms of the sheer magnitude of its implications. The first half of the film feels a bit more clunky and there are many instances where the dialogue is far too cliche and the issues presented too on-the-nose. It wobbles a bit before finally settling into itself and its path. However, there is definitely a grand enough payoff in a strong second half despite a bit of a slow start.
Regardless of some of the film’s imperfections, A Wrinkle in Time is full of emotion, heart, and hope. It teaches lessons of loving yourself and feeling deserving of that love, embracing your faults and also the faults of your parents who, when at such a young age, are greatly idolized. Visually, the film is breathtaking and captivating. There’s not enough to say about the cinematography that will truly capture its beauty in words, but it’s completely immersive.
Storm Reid’s Meg Murry is a sympathetic protagonist. There’s never an instance where you don’t want to root for her. She also serves as a reflection of anyone who has ever felt small, insecure and unlikeable. Reid gives a strong performance that adds so many layers and has so much heart. By the end of the film, it’s very easy to see the change and progress she’s made given all she’s been through. One of the other standout performances from the film is Deric McCabe’s turn as Charles Wallace, whose hyper-intelligence is never used to demean his sister as some of the other characters do. He is sweet, charming and can pull off other layers as well.
Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling make for wonderful guiding characters. Winfrey settles right into the role of the all-knowing Mrs. Which, while Kaling provides knowledge through wise and universal quotes as Mrs. Who. Witherspoon’s turn as Mrs. Whatsit is fun and peppy, but at times it can be frustrating only because she spends the majority of her time wondering why exactly Meg is chosen for this journey. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is wonderful in her limited role and she’s able to capture so many emotions, from sorrow to bewildered happiness, frustration and more. She and Chris Pine are fantastic together onscreen and have lots of chemistry. Pine really puts his best foot forward here in a role that balances human curiosity with the love of a father who saw a bigger world beyond his own. There’s a powerful scene between him and Reid’s character that will steal your breath away.
A Wrinkle in Time is described by DuVernay as being a film for young people and for the young at heart and this is reflected in its execution. It’s full of vibrant colors, a fantastical journey, and settings where the reality of Meg’s world and the wonder of other realms meet in the throes of a heartwarming story. It’s the kind of story that touches the core of your younger self and allows you to relive and understand all of these emotions once more. The film is incredibly genuine and portrays various kinds of love between people. From sibling and parental love to a distinct connection between friends that blooms into something more, A Wrinkle in Time tackles the many shapes of love and the depth of it despite its many imperfections. On many levels, the film captures the essence of its themes in a way that kids can understand and adults can at least enjoy for what it is.
On many levels, the film captures the essence of its themes in a way that kids can understand and adults can at least enjoy for what it is.