Movie Review (A WRINKLE IN TIME)

The movie A WRINKLE IN TIME was a mixed bag, but sweet, cute, and heart-felt nonetheless. The three “Mrs.” characters were far too young, by a minimum of twenty years, especially two of them. The leader Mrs. (Mrs. Which) played by Oprah Winfrey conveyed some degree of gravitas, though even she seemed underaged by at least fifteen years. The three magical, universe-traveling women should have embodied old, wise crones or goddesses, along the lines of the Three Fates or Norns in ancient Greek or Norse mythology, respectively. Instead, they were Hollywood glamorized women who did not come across as particularly sincere or wise, with the partial exception of Ms. Winfrey as Mrs. Which.

The story’s pacing, plot, and character development were often too pat, polished, quick and convenient, as opposed to more steadily built upon to then unfold.  Additionally, the editing was choppy at times, particularly towards the end.  Hence, I was frequently aware of watching a movie and not feeling drawn in much of the time.  There were some visually pleasant special effects CGI, especially in the sunny, grassy world where a field of flowers chatter and levitate.  Other times, the CGI and sets were rather simple for today’s standards, though they at least looked clean and crisp.  Some films, such as JUSTICE LEAGUE, had sloppy, chop suey CGI, so it was great that A WRINKLE IN TIME did not.

I found both Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling, as Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Who respectively, often downright annoying, particularly Witherspoon. They acted like amateur stand-ins playing characters far older and wiser than they. Even Ms. Witherspoon’s overfull white gown seemed out of place, more like some couture reject than what her ancient, travel-weary character would wear, per how Mrs. Whatsit was fleshed out in Madeleine L’Engle’s thoughtful book. That particular, original Mrs. wore a simple, dowdy dress, indicating how she was far removed from caring about physical superficialities such as clothing style.

I appreciated the three main child roles and acting by the kids who portrayed them. They were generally quite competent. The leading character Meg (Storm Reid), a girl of about thirteen, struggling to overcome her low self-esteem, poor self image, and longing for her long-lost father was someone I could definitely relate to from when I was that age.  Meg ‘s primary motivation to find her father, after his mysteriously disappearing four years before the start of the story, creates and then drives the plot.  She is fairly close to how she is portrayed in the (much better) book, with the exception of being biracial American instead of white and British. These physical changes were understandably made to update the story in a diverse, more awake world. Same goes for the genius younger brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe). Meg’s male peer and companion Calvin (Levi Miller) remained Caucasian in the film. The scenes between the children without any of the adults around were the most interesting, sincere, and heart-felt, though Mrs. Which (Winfrey) had some caring moments with Meg, which touched me.

While the resolution of the film was predictable, it felt satisfying. The vital importance of witnessing on screen the successful personality development and maturation of a young female (and one who is biracial at that) into an effective individual of agency was not lost on me. More female-centered films presenting well-evolving girls and women need to be made and seen. And for that I am glad the movie was produced and I supported such a creative endeavor, deeply flawed though it is.

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