A Wrinkle in Time

Often said to be unfilmable, the children’s classic A Wrinkle in Time is ambitious leap for accomplished director Ava DuVernay. Known better for her dramatic and adult themed works, DuVernay was the first Black female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award and also the first Black female director to have her film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture (Selma). A Wrinkle in Time, being the first film with a budget of over $100 million to be directed by Black woman, is DuVernay’s first foray into science fiction, adventure, and YA.

We meet Meg Murry (Storm Reid), the intelligent daughter of two physicists who has been living under clouds of distrust, anger, and grief ever since her father (Chris Pine) went missing while researching interdimensional travel four years ago. Her grades have dropped, she’s being bullied, and all of the adults in her life, save her mother (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), believe she should be past this by now. Her equally intelligent, precocious brother, Charles Wallace (portrayed by the stand out scene stealer Deric McCabe) is her protector and defender; he looks up to her and looks out for her.

Meg’s adventure begins when she is visited by three astral travelers, the quote loving Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), the enigmatic Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), and the delightfully shady Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon). They tell Meg her father is alive, but in danger. Meg can save him, but only if she can become a warrior of light and defeat the darkness of the It infecting the universe. Meg is skeptical, Charles Wallace can hardly wait, and the captivated neighbor boy Calvin (Levi Miller) is more than willing to embark on the galaxy hopping quest with his crush.

A Wrinkle in Time is specific in tone and intent. Meg is not just a protagonist who happens to be Black and female; this film is a love letter to Black girls. It wasn’t made to appeal to adults, but for children and pre-teens, and for the child inside us all. This is very apparent in the dialogue and some of the pacing.

There is a sense of wonderment throughout the film, particularly on the first planet they visit. However, the CGI can be clunky and dark while other intriguing worlds go relatively unexplored. At times the film is too slow and at other times speeding through scenes that could’ve been expanded. There is a lack of energy and rising action. It plateaus and leaves many things unexplained, as if it is a meta comment on dimensional travel itself. The answers I am seeking, however, probably would not stem from questions an 8-12 year old might ask. The children in attendance however, were enraptured.

The dark planet of Camazotz, where It lives and Meg’s father is imprisoned, looks like a brain, blackened by sickness, the synapsis sparking with the darkest emotions and thoughts Meg has experienced. It mirrors her insecurities to her, confirming her worst fear that she was abandoned because she is unlovable. Meg fights back with love for her family, her home, and finally herself because this mission was more than just finding her father. In this sci-fi adventure flick becoming a warrior has nothing to do with your physical abilities. There aren’t any fight scenes with powerful punches and high flying kicks you’d find in traditionally male led films. The power Meg has manifests from how she wields her capacity for love, compassion, and forgiveness.

Who among us at one point or another hasn’t been trapped in the darkness of our own mind? To believe that you can become a warrior of light that the even the darkness cannot conquer is a powerful message for us all.

Maria Jackson
Review by Maria Jackson
Follow her @ Twitter
Friend her @ Facebook