Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time was written in 1962, years before I was born and eventually became a voracious reader of science fiction. After its writing, it took L’Engle years to get her book published, and it has taken years more to finally get to this film. Despite the decades since its the original book was written, my A Wrinkle in Time review will cover how the movie is surprisingly timely and relevant.
I have never read any of the books in the series, despite being on my list of books I need to read someday. To that end, I invited a friend of mine to come to the screening with me, so that I could get the opinion of someone who grew up loving the books in addition to my own opinion.
A Wrinkle in Time finds the happy Murry family consisting of Meg (Storm Reid), her mother, Mrs. Murry (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), and father Mr. Murry (Chris Pine). Everything seems idyllic, with the parental Murrys working in tandem on theoretical scientific studies poised to change everything that the scientific community knows about space travel. Change is imminent and unexpected, as the family adopts young Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe). The mysterious disappearance of Mr. Murry follows soon after, as he’s seemingly on the verge of a breakthrough.
Jump forward in time to find the family four years later, with Meg struggling in school. She’s an outsider with no real friends other than her rather odd younger brother. It’s during a dark and stormy night that Meg is introduced to the flighty and strange Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), who Charles Wallace lets into the house in the midst of the storm. From that meeting, Meg’s world begins to expand as she, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O’Keefe (Levi Miller), the popular boy from school, find themselves following Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), and Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) on an adventure through fantastical worlds. All of this in an effort to try to find and rescue Meg’s father from the evil IT that’s spreading darkness throughout the universe.
A Wrinkle in Time is deftly directed by Ava DuVernay, who gets some worthy performances out of her young stars while making the most of the experienced talent as well. Storm Reid shines as Meg and is a wonderful stand-in for the viewers, most of whom have likely dealt with the universal feelings of not being good enough, clever enough, or popular enough. Deric McCabe’s turn as Charles Wallace is a fun performance as an odd and out of place intellect in a young body. He carries himself as though he knows he is the mastermind of the excursion. Reese Witherspoon is quirky and fun to watch, and Mindy Kaling quoting classic and contemporary works as her form of communication is also a treat. Finally, Oprah Winfrey was fun to watch as the leader of the Mrs. group.
Beyond the performances, the film is also visually stunning. The fantasy planetscapes are vividly expressed and make the viewer wish they were actually accessible so everyone could visit. The ever-changing costumes and makeup of the Mrs. group were another facet in the visual gem unfolding on screen. My companion wrote the following on her Facebook page, “And guys, I just saw the planet Uriel on screen. And it was glorious. The graphics, the costuming, the makeup… It exceeded even my dreams, and my imagination is pretty out there (Pirates riding dinosaurs, I mean come on).”
All that majesty, however, leads to the one flaw that I feel the movie had. There were several beings that escape from the darkness and chase the main group. While most were sinister and threatening in their distinct ways, two of them were flat and anti-climatic. This included the final confrontation with the IT consuming all light and joy in the universe. With another 10 minutes of footage that threat could have been much more menacing, and the final escape more tense and meaningful.
That said, the flaw did not make me want to recommend this movie any less. The differences that my companion noted between the book and the film did not diminish her love of the movie at all. There is so much beauty and wonder in this movie, that it is the perfect vehicle for the message of keeping a sense of light and hope, and in finding the majesty in being who you are. I cried several times during the film and was deeply moved as I watched small, common things from our modern world sucking the joy and wonder of life. I was moved and given hope by the movie, and it’s something that I recommend to anyone feeling troubled by life.
I’ll be seeing this again, and I have the book next to me to start in on. I will be holding a light to keep the darkness from winning.
About A Wrinkle in Time
Synopsis: Based on the classic 1962 novel by Madeleine L’Engle; After the disappearance of her scientist father, three peculiar beings send Meg, her brother, and her friend to space in order to find him.
Director: Ava DuVernay
Writers: Jennifer Lee, Jeff Stockwell (Screenplay), Madeleine L’Engle (Novel)
Stars: Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Levi Miller, Deric McCabe, Chris Pine, Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Runtime: 1 Hour, 49 Minutes