Adolescence can be a troubling and challenging time and Ava DuVernay’s film adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s novel A Wrinkle In Time was made not just with kids in mind, but with 8-12-year-olds as the film’s intended audience. It is DuVernay’s love letter to children and the wonder and magic of childhood.
The film follows Storm Reid’s Meg Murry; a troubled young lady reeling from her father’s four-year-long disappearance. Angry and bullied, Meg only finds solace in her younger brother, the hilarious and precocious Charles Wallace – portrayed wonderfully by newcomer Deric McCabe. On the verge of retreating into herself entirely, Charles Wallace introduces Meg to Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey). These three warriors of light help guide Meg on her journey to the center of the universe not only to find her father but to discover just what she’s capable of.
Gorgeously shot, A Wrinkle In Time places a young black girl at the center, something rarely seen in mainstream films, highlighting why this type of representation continues to be so necessary. Reid is phenomenal as Meg, holding her own in a cast full of acclaimed veteran actors. Through Meg, DuVernay perfectly captures the various nuances of adolescence and all of the emotions that are wrapped within it. Though the film is a feast for the eyes, except for the odd choice of sometimes displaying Winfrey’s Ms. Which as a mega-sized monstrosity, A Wrinkle In Time, in certain parts, seems at war with itself. A jarring script and an uneven tone muddle down Wrinkle’s message at certain points. DuVernay is careful to pay homage to the uncertainty of our teens years, with all of the self-depreciation and uncertainties that come with it. However, A Wrinkle In Time’s Disneyfied stamp, which includes a burgeoning adolescent romance between our protagonist and her classmate Calvin (Levi Miller), felt forced and out of place. In fact, when comparing the first and second act, Wrinkle felt like two entirely different films mashed into one.
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