Despite pacing issues, the remake of “A Wrinkle in Time” presents beautiful visuals and a strong storyline divergent from the 1962 children’s novel.
You know how everyone has a certain piece of media from their childhood, usually a book or a movie or a TV show, that they would obsess over and possess like it belonged to them and no one else? For me, that piece of media was Madeleine L’Engle’s novel “A Wrinkle in Time” I read the first sentence and immediately found a kindred spirit in Meg Murry, the book’s protagonist. Like Meg, I couldn’t sleep during thunderstorms, hated math and had a genius younger brother. Naturally, when Disney announced the book was getting a film adaptation, I was excited — and when they announced it would be directed by Ava DuVernay, I was ecstatic.
The basic premise of “A Wrinkle in Time” follows Meg, a troubled, bespectacled teen, whose father, a scientist, has been missing for four years. Meg’s younger brother Charles Wallace, a six-year-old genius, pulls Meg, along with Calvin O’Keefe, a classmate of Meg, into a search for her father. The quest takes them to the farthest edges of the universe, where Meg confronts both the darkness of the universe and the darkness within herself.
“A Wrinkle in Time” the movie is very different from “A Wrinkle in Time” the book, and in many ways, that is its greatest strength. The best film adaptations expound on the source material rather than treating it as a sacred text. This film gives a whole new layer of meaning to Meg’s character arc, by casting African-American actress Storm Reid in the role, and a whole new layer of empowerment given when Oprah Winfrey, as an all-powerful celestial being, looks directly into her eyes and tells her she is beautiful.
Although the movie tries its best to erase L’Engle’s Episcopal beliefs from the story, it does not succeed entirely. At the core of both works is the idea that radical love can redeem what was lost and save the world. That’s why the main characters are kids. Only kids would be naive enough to believe in that thread of hope. And for a whole two hours, the audience is placed within that mindset. It’s refreshing, but at the core of it, “A Wrinkle in Time” isn’t for cynical, world-weary adults; it’s for innocent, naive-enough-to-change-the-world kids.
Children live life from moment to moment, and so does “A Wrinkle in Time.” The movie exists as a series of scenes, and while some soar visually, the film is uneven to say the least. Some scenes are extremely effective while others fall flat, missing important story beats. “A Wrinkle In Time” wanted to please everyone from the book purists to the casual moviegoer, and ultimately, that’s its biggest letdown.
Pacing problems aside, every performance in “A Wrinkle In Time” is impeccable. Chris Pine solidifies his place as The Best of the Hollywood Chrises with a solid performance as Mr. Murry, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Mrs. Murry sells truckloads of emotions without needing to say a word. Visually, the movie is appealing but relies too much on the manufactured beauty of CGI rather than the beauty of well-composed images.
“A Wrinkle in Time” the book gave me a world in which I saw myself; “A Wrinkle In Time” the movie gives the same to its young audience. It doesn’t hold the same cynical views adults are bound to, and lives in a world where hope is motivating and love is the transcending force. The more I reflect on it, the more I want to go see it again.