Ava DuVernay takes audiences into a cosmic fantasy with A Wrinkle In Time that will really stretch your reality, while also inspiring yourself to look inwards into yourself and trust in the nature of family.
Following the disappearance of her father (Chris Pine), typical middle school student Meg Murray (Storm Reed) has become withdrawn from the world. But when three celestial guides (Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling) arrive on earth Meg is swept up into a fantastical adventure that will see her travel across the cosmos to do battle with a terrible darkness that threatens the very universe itself.
Adapted from the classic children books by Madeleine L’Engle, DuVernay gets the chance to do something totally different with A Wrinkle in Time. Best described as a cosmic fairytale, where the story balances both wonder and science, and where the narrative is layered with some very heavy themes.
But first the magic. And there is a lot of it. DuVernay really goes to town imagining the vast power of the universe, and the creativity that it can muster in the form of her three central guardian characters: Mrs Which (Oprah Winfrey), Mrs Who (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs WhatsIt (Reese Witherspoon). Clad in billowing dresses, and wearing some very sparkly make-up Winfrey, Witherspoon and Kaling come to represent the forces of the universe. Each of the Mrs has their own arc and point-of-view with Winfrey portraying the central matriarchial figure, Witherspoon the plucky, free-spirited adventurer, and Kaling as the wise, and all-knowing seer. Both separately and in-unison they all complement each other and the larger narrative, and I was impressed with the creativity that each actress brought to her role. For each of these performers you can just feel how much of a passion project this film was, and this passion was evident on screen.
While I can’t divulge too much of the narrative without going into spoiler territory, I will say that the film was appealing to me because of it’s deep adherence to eastern philosophy and an emphasis on shared consciousness. All throughout the film, DuVernay makes references to the ideas of great thinkers such as Rumi, Paulo Coelho and Maya Angelou. While at its surface A Wrinkle in Time charts the journey of a daughter who desires to find her father, on a deeper level it asks its audiences to consider their own impact in the world and to think of how this impact affects those others around them. For a children’s film, it’s a very ambitious stance to take, but something which I think will make it a far more enjoyable experience for both children and adults alike.
While it’s easy to praise the performance of the film’s three headlining stars, I must also give credit to Storm Reid, who does a tremendous job portraying the central role of Meg Murray, an old-ball student who doesn’t fit in this world, and whose fathers absence has left her with a deep hole in her heart, and seeking desperately for some kind of meaning. Storm is a great reference point for the audience as Meg and she takes them into the story, and as she is tested by the events of the story, and the universe itself, she grows stronger and stronger. For such a young actress a role like this is a very big responsibility, but she definitelty could hand it, and you could sense how being surrounded by such incredible actresses and a director like DuVernay, really allowed her to give it her all.
Other actors who impress are Chris Pine as Meg’s father Dr Alex Murray who has a Steve Jobs/Albert Einstein quality to him, and Zach Galifianakis as The Happy Medium, a cosmic entity who has the bearings of an avatar similar to Krishna, and who brings a good dose of hilarity to the film.
If you’re looking for a deeper cinematic experience and something that will really make you think, then I would suggest you see A Wrinkle In Time. It’s bold, bright and packed to the brim with higher-level thinking, and presents a wonderful message to its audience about tolerance, acceptance and family.
Image: Walt Disney Pictures