T here is something distinctively challenging about creating a film from the pages of a book. There are dozens of attempts, and conservatively, twenty-five percent of those attempts please the “true” fans. Books are a hard medium to translate into film, and it could be argued that they are more suitable to translation to episodic mediums, like television or Netflix. Yet, nevertheless, directors are adamant to crack the code.
A Wrinkle in Time is a daunting project. If movie adaptations of books are difficult, then A Wrinkle in Time is one of those Master Class level tests of translation. Director Ava DuVernay’s (Selma and 13th) take on inter-dimensional travel instills a level of spectacle and diversity that is surprisingly cohesive to the source material.
There is a feeling of lightness to the first act of the film that is hard to quantify. It’s almost as if the idea of Imagination is being projected in front of you. Beautiful colors mix with surreal landscapes populated by unique characters. The story’s main protagonist, Meg, is played by Storm Reid (12 Years a Slave), an enrapturing and energetic young actor who demands your attention throughout the film. Her young companions on screen are also quite good. Levi Miller’s (Pan) Calvin is endearing and Deric McCabe’s (Stephanie) Charles Wallace commands quite a few of the movie’s most tense and emotional scenes.
A Wrinkle in Time is a beautifully shot movie. Close up character angles instill intimacy and sweeping landscapes capture the strange beauty and otherworldliness of Madeleine L’Engle’s award-winning novel. Yet, this film’s most laudable achievement lies in the heart of its message. A message that encourages kids to love themselves and others, and encourages them to fight back against darkness that is all too present in the world today. In a time where the darkness portrayed by the film permeates everyday life, this message couldn’t be more punctual.
The film does stray from the book in a few ways, but in the end it is hard to fault the vision that is upheld. After all, this is an adaptation of a book, not an exact replication. The changes that are made from the original make sense, and most importantly, don’t impact that message the story is trying to get across. And while an argument could be made about sticking to source material, the truth is, DuVernay very much does stay true to the core of that source material.
The Mrs. W—Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which (played by Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon, and Oprah Winfrey, respectively—are dazzling characters, each with their own distinct purpose within their group. Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Irreplaceable You and The Cloverfield Paradox) and Chris Pine (Star Trek reboot), while not major players in the movie, provide stable anchors as the Murry family parents.
A Wrinkle in Time is a delightful movie, and while as an adult, I can see a few flaws in pacing, shot length, and child acting, the kid in me was whisked away by the spectacle and reassured by its message of self-confidence and love. The second act could have been thirty minutes longer and perhaps we could have seen more of the book’s locations and characters. In the end, those arguments feel facile when you sit back and think about what these characters and this story are trying to tell you: Believe in yourself and love with all that you are. | Caleb Sawyer