Visual and Heart Provide a Good 'Time'
It was only a matter of time before director Ava DuVernay transitioned into large-scale filmmaking, having shown promise with her sprawling Martin Luther King epic, "Selma." Her latest, an adaptation of "A Wrinkle in Time," demonstrates DuVernay's eye for razzle dazzle to occasionally uneven, but ultimately satisfying, effect.
Adapted from the acclaimed novel by Madeleine L'Engle, "A Wrinkle in Time" follows Meg (Storm Reid), a smart 12-year-old just going through the motions of everyday life. She has lost her interest in school and faces bullying from some students everyday. Things haven't been the same for Meg since her scientist father (Chris Pine) vanished four years prior but she continues to have hope she will see him again, despite most people assuming he is dead.
One night, Meg's little brother (Deric McCabe) is visited by Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), an incident that leaves Meg and her mother (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) quite confused. Mrs. Whatsit leads Meg and her brother to Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), who claim to be able to help Meg find her father. They encourage Meg and her brother, sending them on a time-bending journey in the hopes they will reach their desired outcome. Meg's classmate, Calvin (Levi Miller) joins them for the adventure.
Meg's quest takes her to places she never dreamed of exploring, introducing her to characters that she has to blink twice to know they are even real. The time spent searching for Meg's father is often quite engaging, aided by the candy-coated visuals of DuVernay's film. If anything, "A Wrinkle in Time" is a sumptuous feast for the senses, enveloping us in L'Engle's storybook world.
As our protagonist, Reid carries the film and helps us to become emotionally invested in her experience. Paired with big stars like Witherspoon, Winfrey and Kaling, Reid is always the focus of the film. The Mrs. trio come and goes intermittently, operating as spiritual guidance for Meg. Despite being headlining actresses, they are more than happy to give Reid the spotlight.
DuVernay has done a commendable job helming her first - and certainly not last - $100 million film. The movie, most notably in the second act, struggles to find a smooth pacing and flow, bouncing from one set piece to the next. Nevertheless, "A Wrinkle in Time" manages to work itself out and bring us back into its gorgeous journey.
The younger folks in the family may be bored with what the movie has to offer, but this is an unabashedly sentimental family film, worthy of a trip to the movies. It wears its Disney-sized heart on its sleeve, while celebrating science and a sense of adventure. It's a smart children's film, something that is far too rare at today's multiplex.