It was a bold move for Disney to announce that they were going to attempt the, what I thought was impossible, adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic novel “A Wrinkle In Time” for the silver screen.
Having already been attempted once in the 1960’s by ABC, a disaster that even the author herself hated, it was a difficult task to undertake;
that didn’t stop director Ava Duvernay from rising to the challenge.
Tapping into her inner child, Ava brings imagination to life through the story of the all-too-relatable Meg Murray (Storm Reid), an uncoordinated middle schooler who’s brilliant father (Chris Pine) disappeared 4 years prior after a scientific breakthrough on the ability to travel large distances in space through a tesseract. Her brilliant scientist of a mother (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is balancing single parenthood of Meg and her intellectual prodigy of an adopted younger brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), all while holding on to the hope that her husband is still out there. All of this leads to Meg pulling into herself, away from friends, culminating in social problem like being bullied at school.
Charles Wallace, with all of his intellectual prowess, doesn’t show the slightest surprise when an odd, redheaded woman named Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) shows up at their home one night. Despite her stating she doesn’t think Meg has what it takes for their “mission”, Charles Wallace encourages Meg and her creepily-romantic supportive friend Calvin (Levi Miller) to join Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey) as they “tesser” through folds within the fabric of time to jump through space and rescue their father from a dark entity known only as “It”. Bouncing from planet to planet, the storyline shows how in order to fulfill her quest,
Meg must learn to recognize and embrace the faults that she feels define her and to embrace the power that has always been within.
While the script lays a strong roadmap the first half of the film, the latter half seems to be lacking in direction and consistency. Full of elaborate costume changes, existential crisis, and sensory overload, the film at times feels like a sci-fi acid trip rather than a Disney movie. I say that but The Neverending Story is one of my all-time favorite kids’ movies, so why can’t this be on the same level? This was the first movie in a while that I felt was made for children, without pandering to the adults who have to take them.
Separately, this film broke through a lot of barriers, some that affect me personally, but at times it felt like those glass ceilings may have eclipsed the film itself.
Sadly, it is 2018 and this is the first $100 million movie directed by an African-American woman.
Coupled with that, she broke my #1 canon-adaptation rule by casting a biracial actress as the lead character. I respect this choice not only because I could see myself in this girl, but because since the film took place in modern day, she chose to show what today’s average family would look like. Ava’s color-blind agenda has the potential for long-lasting impacts on casting in Hollywood and is something I would have given anything to see growing up. People in the majority will never truly know the depth of why representation matters.
It’s clear Ava did not make this film for critics and has been quoted saying that while the film is meant to make a positive impact on young girls and boys, it is truly a love letter to young black girls everywhere. Filled with lines about the worthiness of love, courage, and self-acceptance, you’d be hard-pressed to miss the messages laid out in the script.
If you can find your inner child, or if you’re lucky enough to have never lost them, then this movie is a welcomed treat for the imagination and a source of light in recent times of darkness.