Film Review: DuVernay’s “A Wrinkle in Time” A Movie to Empower Young Minds

“A book, too, can be a star, explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.” – Madeleine L’Engle….

Sometimes the noises around you are so loud that it clouds your vision, award-winning Ava DuVernay is one of the first female directors to direct a live-action feature film with a budget over $100 million, a first for an African-American woman director and the first director to bring what many classified as a difficult movie to adapt, to the big screen.

Madeleine L’Engle Camp was born in 1918, her 1962 book “A Wrinkle in Time” did not get a very encouraging response from publishers who did not understand where to place the book.  The film brings to life the story of Meg Murry (Storm Reid) a young girl who flies through time and dimensions to rescue her scientist father. Some might say in 1962 a female heroine was not that easy to digest, with space exploration in the 1960’s being a new and exciting concept to Americans.

Like the book, in the film Murry has three celestial guardian angels called “the Mrs’s played by the Hollywood powerhouse that is Winfrey (Mrs. Which), Witherspoon (Mrs. Whatsit) and Kaling is the oft-quoting (Mrs.Who).

The book has all the ingredients of many great fairy tales, but combines science and fantasy, central to the movie is the warm family story. DuVernay brings this to the screen with her own vision creating amazing characters and using the moralistic thread which is the difficulties of growing up and finding one’s identity to propeller story, with great direction. Reid assists with a steady performance, handling the emotional scenes with maturity.

The movie starts with a younger Meg Murry with her father (Chris Pine), mother (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and her then unborn younger brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe).

Fast forward four years we see a teenage Meg filled with self-doubt, who does not fit in at school and is missing her father who disappeared while doing a time-travel science experiment. One day Meg, Charles Wallace and her mother are visited by a being from another planet the “kooky” Mrs Whatsit (Witherspoon) who tells them Meg’s father is alive but is stranded across the universe, Mrs. Whatsit is accompanied by the even stranger but dazzling Mrs. Which and Mrs. Who.  As Meg sets out on the journey to find her father with Charles Wallace and her friend Calvin (Levi Miller) she also embarks on a journey of self-discovery and she is given the “gift of her faults” by Mrs’ Whatsit.

In a time where we are championing female trailblazers and fighting for equality “A Wrinkle in Time” is a movie that will continue to allow young girls and all teenagers to dream big and to acknowledge that as Mrs. Which points out “there is no wrong size”. Casting Storm Reid (Meg) as the central character of this Disney movie is as ground-breaking as when in 2009 after 72 years of Disney, the first black Disney princess was born in The Princess and the Frog animation. When L’Engle wrote the book the character of Meg was based on her as a teenager, this is the first time that a white protagonist in a young adult sci-fi has been cast as a black girl.

When talking to the press at the London premiere, DuVernay said that growing up, A Wrinkle in Time was the kind of story she loved “…. they never loved me back because I was never able to see anyone that looked like me”.

DuVernay’s “A Wrinkle in Time” reminds the audience why the book went on to become an award winner, a timeless children’s classic and a favorite to millions of children across the USA. An epic adventure examining the concept of dark versus light and love conquering all.

The film is scripted by Oscar-winner Frozen writer and co-director Jennifer Lee and produced by Jim Whitaker and Catherine Hand. Stars: Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Peña, Storm Reid, Zach Galifianakis, Chris Pine and Deric McCabe. #BeAWarrior #AWIT

“A Wrinkle in Time” (PG) is in UK cinemas from March 23, 2018.

Photo Credit: Atsushi Nishijima – The three celestial beings, Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey).

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