Directed by: Ava DuVernay
Runtime: 109 minutes
A Wrinkle in Time (2018) is an ambitious and deeply creative film. Despite its shortcomings, the film has an emotional core so powerfully portrayed by its beautiful images and passionate cast that I couldn’t help but find myself in tears at multiple points throughout the film.
After the sudden disappearance of her scientist father, Meg Murry (Storm Reid) finds herself alienated from her school friends, teachers and family completely unable to heal and move on. After Meg’s younger brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), introduces her to a series of strange, otherworldly astral travellers named Mrs Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), Mrs Who (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs Which (Oprah Winfrey) she begins a journey through the universe, following a series of clues that could lead her to her missing father.
A Wrinkle In Time is a stunning film, with a strong message that unfortunately fell flat at key moments. It’s important to remember that it is a children’s movie but honestly, as a children’s movie it’s completely fine. The slow first act left my mind wandering and I struggled to feel anything other than mild interest for the characters as they travelled the universe in search of Meg’s father.
The CGI in this film was incredible and fully realised the colourful universe of A Wrinkle in Time. The colours and detail were astounding but I felt that same attention to detail was lacking in actual world building. Other than meeting a few gossipy flowers and the ominous “It” and a few of its lackeys, we barely meet the creatures that inhabit each new planet. Rules that were established in one scene were immediately broken in the next. It was confusing, to say the least and audience members had no way of knowing if any of the alleged stakes raised were even real.
The cast’s performances were fairly adequate. Reid’s Megan was surly and difficult but often lacked any further depth. Levi Miller as Meg’s classmate, Calvin, was even blander. Their performances were fortunately bolstered by that of Gugu Mbatha-Raw (as Meg’s mother, Dr Kate Murray), Chris Pine (as Meg’s father, Dr Alexander Murray) and Oprah (as Mrs Which). The most impressive performance by far was that of McCabe as Charles Wallace who managed to bring a delightful playfulness, intelligence and depth even as the youngest member of the cast.
I felt the films biggest failing was its prioritisation of emotion and ideas over a gripping plot or even a captivating antagonist. The stakes never felt high enough and I often found myself forgetting what the whole journey was even about. Even so, I shed a few tears (read: I sobbed openly in the back of the cinema) from the opening scene until the end. I wouldn’t judge, because its obvious Du Vernay knew what she was doing when she brought Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell’s screenplay to life. Meg endures bullying, alienation, and low self-esteem—issues the film meets head-on throughout. I think any person watching this film would say they wish they had this film when they were growing up because I definitely felt like I could do anything afterwards.
All in all, A Wrinkle in Time is an okay enough film but unfortunately not the modern classic I was hoping it would be. It’s not bad, just bland and guilty of being trite a little too often.