Few films have been as highly anticipated as A Wrinkle In Time and its release is finally upon us.
Disney’s big-screen, bigger-budget adaptation of the beloved 1963 novel by Madeleine L’Engle is worth seeing for a number of reasons, but you may not get what you’re expecting from the star-studded cast and ground-breaking director, Ava DuVernay.
At the very first screening of A Wrinkle In Time on the Disney lot, DuVernay warned the audience that they weren’t about to witness “Selma in space,” and right she was.
My guess is that she is well aware that her reputation for powerful, insightful, needle-moving movies like Selma, 13th, and Middle of Nowhere doesn’t really jive with this particular endeavor. Instead, she reminded us, this was an attempt to deliver a movie for 8-12-year-old kids. Given that honest disclaimer, the finished product was right on the money.
My 8-year-old niece was completely enthralled with the stunning scenery, vivid colors, and larger-than-life depiction of Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey). While some critics may take issue with the continuity of the story, I submit that perhaps it’s not meant for us, and that’s OK. During her short speech at the screening, DuVernay also made mention of a similar project, The Neverending Story, and I remembered being equally confused and charmed by that particular flick as a child and as an adult.
The mere fact that Duvernay was able to secure the gig as the first woman of color to command a $100 million+ budget is a feat in itself and an especially important one at a time when Hollywood is attempting to change its “white boys only” persona.
DuVernay’s take on A Wrinkle In Time features masterful imagery and stirring performances from standout actors like Storm Reid, whose portrayal of Meg Murray is certainly worthy of the praise she has received. Deric McCabe is equally impressive as her little brother, Charles Wallace, and Oprah’s mere presence is as powerful as promised.
The thing is, kids movies don’t have to make as much sense as films intended for adults. They don’t question whether or not an idea is “realistic” or plausible and they don’t get wrapped up in details the way we do. They just latch onto how what they’re watching makes them feel.
If DuVernay’s intention was to make children today feel strong and motivated to love themselves, she succeeded.Her other likely intention; to create a film where color is not an issue and provide an opportunity for children of color to see themselves reflected on the big screen, was certainly realized with the diverse cast that includes Gugu Mbatha-Raw as her mother and Chris Pine as Meg’s father.
The chemistry between Reid and Pine is palpable and their scenes together are truly moving and relatable. Reid’s portrayal of a kid grappling with the disappearance of her father and the rejection of friends at school is one plenty of children and teens can and will relate to. Her journey to self acceptance is an inspiration we all know they need today.
So, take this film for what it is and don’t try to make it what it isn’t. If you can manage that, you’re in for a beautiful tale that highlights the power of our own minds and the unbreakable bonds of love.