Madeleine L'Engle's 1962 children's novel, A Wrinkle in Time, was rejected by more than 25 publishers before becoming an award-winning classic story about quantum physics, the danger of conformity and the power of love. Though geared at young readers, the story's nuanced mesh of science, female heroism and, yes, Christian ideology nudged its appeal to adults as well.
The story's protagonist, 13-year-old Meg Murry (Storm Reid, 12 Years a Slave), is an angry outcast suffering from the loss of her father (Chris Pine of Star Trek fame), a scientist who, along with his fellow scientist wife (Beauty and the Beast's Gugu Mbatha-Raw), has learned to "wrinkle" time, travel the universe and has been captured by the pervasive evil that seeks to turn all beings away from the light. Meg, her prodigy little brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) and new friend Calvin O'Keefe (Levi Miller, Pan) set out to rescue him.
Director Ava DuVernay's adaptation falls unsurprisingly short in capturing the nuance of L'Engle's novel, relying frequently on baffling amounts of glitter and eyeshadow to convey magic and angry trees to connote evil. The trio of magical beings, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which (Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling and Oprah Winfrey, respectively) appear here with particular Disney theme-park camp, although Winfrey's bone-deep ability to convey empathy makes for some of the film's most touching moments.
That empathy is primarily directed to Meg, played by Reid with hints of the fierceness and nuance that emblematized the original book. The young characters' rescue mission takes them to Camazotz, a place where evil, fear and conformity have enslaved inhabitants. The film's greatest adaptive decision was its diverse casting, which reinforces L'Engle's original message about the importance of individual spirit and experience in the fight between good and evil.
+ Diverse casting; Storm Reid's performance; glitter
– Lack of nuance; possibly too much glitter
A Wrinkle in Time
Directed by DuVernay
With Reid, Mbatha-Raw, Kaling, Witherspoon, Oprah, Miller, McCabe and Pine
Violet Crown, Regal, PG, 109 minutes