A Wrinkle in Time reminded me of a kid-friendly absurdist David Lynch project with less fragile female characters. Lauded for directing 13th and Selma, Ava DuVernay is truly a visionary in the world of contemporary cinema. She illuminates the issue of racial inequality with nuance and panache. It comes as a surprise then, that her debut Disney project, an adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s psychedelic children’s book, received mostly negative reviews. A Wrinkle in Time has been called an ambitious project that didn’t quite land. Watching A Wrinkle in Time, I definitely discerned some of the issues that critics have pointed out. To me, many of the performances in the film felt a tad stilted, maybe even hamfisted at times. Calvin, Charles Wallace, and Meg’s father all verged on the edge of inadvertent comedic earnestness. Sorry, Chris Pine.
That said, I did enjoy this film a lot. Aesthetically, the visuals are gorgeous. DuVernay knows how to use colors and angles to tell a story through the medium of film. The film consists of bright, cheerful hues that elevate this sense of fierce optimism throughout its narrative. There’s a lovely scene where the Misses take Charles Wallace, Meg, and Calvin to the planet Uriel. Reese Witherspoon, who plays Mrs. Whatsit, frolics through a verdant field of vibrant flowers and let the children climb upon her back when she transforms into a plant creature. Simply gorgeous.
I also loved watching Storm Reid’s performance as the main character. Meg is an introspective, curious heroine that we seldom see in children’s movies. Meg’s little brother Charles Wallace convinces her to team up with the Misses to go search for their father, a missing astrophysicist. The children learn that their father is trapped on a planet that’s home to a foreboding presence called the IT. In addition to finding their father, they’ll also have to overcome the IT. To me, it’s refreshing that Meg isn’t a blindingly guileless, spunky heroine. She’s pretty far from a ray of sunshine. She’s complicated, rich, acting with caution and suspicion. She refuses to settle for less than what she believes is right, and this plays a pretty crucial part in the climax of the film.
While A Wrinkle of Time might have not entirely gelled together, it’s still a film worth watching, especially if you have or know little children who could benefit from its fearless vision of hope in the face of evil.