I will preface this review by admitting that I went into this film completely blind. Although I knew of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic novel beforehand, I’ve never read it. So, I didn’t quite know what to expect other than my own thoughts that I came up with based on what I’d witnessed within the trailers. When I did finally get to see the movie on the big screen, it was nothing short of gorgeous. So, let the review begin (spoiler-free, of course)!
“The only thing faster than light, is the darkness.”
The film focuses on Meg Murry (Storm Reid) and her family consisting of her little brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), and mother, Dr. Kate Murry (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). It’s been four years since the disappearance of her scientist father, Dr. Alex Murry (Chris Pine) and the family is still trying to come to terms with what could have happened to the beloved patriarch. In the years that have passed, no one can pinpoint the reason behind Dr. Alex Murry vanishing.
Unfortunately, like many children her age, Meg is subjected to bullying with her biggest adversary coming in the form of Veronica (Rowan Blanchard). When Meg finally defends herself and her family, she is greeted with a trip to the office of Principal Jenkins (Andre Holland). Jenkins reminds Meg that she cannot use her father’s disappearance as an excuse for acting out and when she arrives home, her mother echoes much of the same sentiment. The duo are soon distracted by a woman with red hair, sporting a flowing white ensemble who is talking to Charles in their living room. Charles introduces her as Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) and while both Meg and Kate are visibly wary of the stranger, this is the start of an epic adventure.
With the help of schoolmate, Calvin (Levi Miller), Meg and Charles next meet Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey) in quick succession. Mrs. Which notifies Meg that the three heard a cry out in the universe, which they believe belongs to their father, Alex. During their search, not everything is as it seems and where there is light, darkness can be found and it is spreading across the universe, ready to infect all those who enter its path.
The first thing that I noticed while watching was the chemistry between all the actors and their respective characters, regardless of how big or small their roles were. Storm Reid excelled as the reclusive, brilliant and outspoken young girl who wants nothing more than be reunited with her father and the chemistry she shares with Levi Miller is fantastic. Then we have Deric McCabe as Charles Wallace. The nine-year-old is truly a scene stealer and he shines in his first major role.
The next standout would be all the visual elements. With brilliant visual effects, it was easy to believe the characters and myself as the viewer, had been transported to an otherworldly place with magical wildlife, sprawling meadows, beautiful mountains and a sky of the brightest blue. There was no shortage of detail and I wondered what it would be like to experience the film in 3D. Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Which had costumes that were fantastically detailed with bright colours and various textures that seemed to speak to the personality of each of the three celestial beings. Kudos to Paco Delgado for creating costumes that leapt off the screen.
While we have many good elements in A Wrinkle In Time, it is not without its flaws. Specifically, I felt that the pacing was off at times. In moments where I felt as though I was getting into it, something interfered that had us meandering along once again, just when I believed things were about to kick into high gear. I also found myself wanting to know more about some of the characters that were left behind when the children begin their quest, specifically Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s character, Kate. It would have been interesting to explore the mother-daughter relationship after the disappearance of Alex but as the movie could not be three hours long, I can see why they couldn’t.
I also found that we did not spend as much time with Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which and Mrs. Whatsit as I thought we might, based on the trailers and promotional materials. The trio have some of the funnier moments in the film and the banter between them is great, so I left the theatre feeling as if I didn’t get to see enough of them and with that, we also lose a little bit of what their greater place in the story is. We get to see brief glimpses of their powers but never the full range. It is likely an element that is addressed in the book but couldn’t be perfectly incorporated into a 2-hour movie.
But where the film really stands out is in the messages that it delivers. The messages are not shrouded or hidden by the grandiose visual effects or the beautiful costumes. The ever-present themes of self-love, acceptance and family are an inspiration and there will be some moments where you get caught in your feelings as Meg tries to find herself in a world where she feels mostly like an outsider. Another additional touch I enjoyed was the use of a mixed family to bring the Murrys to life. Being biracial myself (my father is Afro-Jamaican and my mother is Irish-Canadian), I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen a family on the big screen that somewhat resembled my own and it was nice to see how perfectly normal it was, especially considering how many mixed families there are throughout the world.
With all the above being said, while the film is not flawless it is still definitely one to watch. You will be moved by DuVernay’s vision. It is one of the more recent films I’ve seen where you can tell that director, cast and crew had a succinct vision and poured their hearts and souls into it. It deserves to be seen in theatres on the big screen for the loveable, relatable characters and the important messages about the importance of family, embracing everything you are and that despite your personal circumstances and faults, your light can still break through the darkness. You can be a warrior.
A Wrinkle In Time is in theaters right now. Be sure to check it out!