A Wrinkle in Time – Film Review
Writers:Jennifer Lee (screenplay by), Jeff Stockwell (screenplay by)
Stars:Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon
Meg Murry is struggling with the loss of her father. It has been four years since he mysteriously vanished and the void left by him has taken over every part of her life. She struggles at school and at home to connect to those around her, feeling hopelessly lost and adrift. But when the strange Mrs Whatsit arrives unannounced at her door one night a series of events are set in motion that could help Meg finally discover who she really is and what happened to her father.
A Wrinkle in Time is Disney’s latest big-budget family extravaganza based on the book by Madeleine L’Engle. The story at its heart is about love battling against evil and how each of us, no matter how unpopular or awkward we are, can rise to be a warrior for good. The original 1962 novel was celebrated for its imagination and pioneering of a young female heroin making it a fan favourite and a classic in its own right. Here Disney have attempted to harness the power and inspirational message of the book for their own profit but sadly with varying results.
The diverse casting is beautiful to watch with Oprah Winfrey taking on the role of Mrs Which an all-knowing otherworldly being, which is a particularly inspired choice of casting. Storm Reid who plays the titular Meg Murry is a likeable leading lady, doing her best with what the script allows, but sadly so many elements of Meg’s character are unexplored in the film that her choices feel very hollow. In the book the brilliance of Meg’s mind and how she is probably a genius is what isolates her from her peers and contributes hugely to her character development. In the film she comes across more as a moody teenager who seems to be pretty good at science, meaning her journey to becoming the hero of the film is forced at times. Also, her little prodigy brother Charles Wallace is possibly the most annoying character you’ve ever encountered, yet his role is so integral to the plot you wonder why they would pitch him so wrong.
With any adaptation you are bound to lose elements of the original that fans loved but so many cuts have been made that it feels as if we are missing integral parts of the story. The concept is totally bonkers, that one may travel through space using something called a tesseract (I still don’t quite understand this if I’m honest), but that could be excused if it didn’t feel like the whole movie was slightly afraid of fully embracing its strangeness. At times it feels as if the filmmakers are giving the whole thing the side eye and apologising for the continual costume changes, diminishing the magic of the story.
One thing is for sure though, Disney knows how to spin a line that will tug at the heartstrings and A Winkle in Time is stuffed full of them. The overall message being that love can overcome even the most persistent darkness is hammered home here with some pretty cheesy dialogue and a soundtrack that is supposed to be emotional but is more distracting than anything else.
A Wrinkle in Time is in places a fun and visually exciting film to watch but it is nowhere near some of Disney’s best work. Though there are moments of real heart and hope throughout, sadly overall the film doesn’t capture the magic of the book. Imagination was what made L’Engle’s book a classic and an over reliance on CGI and emotional manipulation have let the power of the original fade into nothing.