It’s always a bit weird when the director comes on at the beginning of the film and thanks you for coming to see their movie. Why do that? The movie speaks for itself (or should) and if you want to thank me for coming to see it, do it by making the movie awesome. The hidden message tacked on to ‘thanks for coming to see this’ is always: ‘…even though it probably sucks’. I don’t want to say A Wrinkle In Time sucked because it didn’t. I have a special place in my heart for A Wrinkle in Time – I LOVED the book when I was very young. I actually reread it recently to prepare for this movie and was shocked by how different it was (and I was) than what I remembered. And also because A Wrinkle in Time looked like a lot of fun to make.
After the disappearance of her scientist father, three peculiar beings send Meg, her brother, and her friend to space in order to find him.
This can’t have been an easy film to make. Madeleine L’Engle (author of the book) was deeply and overtly religious. The three strange gals that Meg encountered, for example, were explicitly angels. Thankfully they didn’t talk about God in the film (I wouldn’t have gone to see it if I’d thought they would) but I start to see how important the religious angle is to appreciating this film. The supernatural beings they deal with are surreal and deliberately bizarre in their presentation. This makes sense if you know they’re part of the Christian cosmology because you can think: “holy shit – THESE are angels?” The idea must have been revolutionary at the time. But since all we really know is that these beings are ‘warriors of the light’, their weirdness doesn’t seem to have a point. Being inexplicable is not, by itself, impressive.
A Wrinkle In Time was treat for the eyes. The sets were gorgeous, the special effects were really good and I loved the use of colour. They weren’t afraid to dial it up to eleven when it suited them. The acting was really good too, though I probably don’t need to mention that, it’s OPRAH for god’s sake. But Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling were also completely believable as subtextual angels. Deric McCabe was great as well. And Meg, Storm Reid was perfect as the main character, we got a great sense of her emotional struggles. She reacted to mundane conflicts and cosmic struggles alike in a way that was easy to empathize with.
I had some troubles with the writing. For one thing it was VERY slow to start. It’s the only story I’ve seen that actually has to begin with a Deus Ex Machina. And it doesn’t get better – we move from one heavy handed plot device to another until the main conflict gets underway. We don’t understand why things are happening, or how – a point of view that I bet children can resonate with a lot better. As an adult I had some questions. All that said, the underlying story (the Internal Struggle) rings absolutely true. It is the story of someone who is trying to come to terms with their own flaws while at the same time dealing with an unpredictable world. We’ve all been there in some way or another, and the message of self-acceptance and need for belonging was definitely worthwhile and genuine.
So is Wrinkle in Time worth seeing? I’m going to say yes because I still feel it’s something that should exist. It doesn’t feel like it belongs in the modern world, but at the same time I don’t think it belonged in the world it was written in either. We need things like that. And I know I’m definitely not the intended audience for this – the kids in the theatre around me definitely ‘got it’. So while I’m here telling you it’s beautiful but deeply flawed, I’m pretty sure it’s changing someone’s life somewhere.