"A Wrinkle In Time" was made for the 13-year-old girl you used to be, and the messages you always needed to hear
Though I can’t remember an exact number, I know I read Wrinkle In Time a handful of times growing up — let’s say more than once, but less than 10. It was one of those comfort books that I kept on my shelf, and I’d turn to when I just wanted to pass the time breezing through pages of a familiar book. It was also a story I was SUPER into, because it was about science fiction, and fantasy, and a little girl who saves the day — something you didn’t really read in a lot of books in the mid ’90s, let alone back when it was first published in 1962. Wrinkle In Time was groundbreaking for a variety of reasons, but more importantly, it was groundbreaking for me.
The character of Meg Murry is described as too smart for her own good, so it gets her into trouble. She mouths off. She has messy brown hair. She doesn’t think she’s pretty, and can’t understand why because her mother is beautiful. She’s lost and confused, and doesn’t understand her place in the world yet. There’s a cute boy and she balks at the idea that he could ever be into her, because she’s too plain and boring for someone like Calvin O’Keefe. But thanks to her journey to the outskirts of the universe to save her father, she realizes she’s so much more than what she thinks she is. In the end, Meg Murry is the hero.
And for a young, confused, trying-go-find-her-place and also trying to not-be-a-weirdo teenage girl, this was important. It still is important. The new movie, A Wrinkle In Time, is very very important for this sole reason. Ava DuVernay’s epic fantasy is literally a carousel of swirling color. The movie very much follows the book it’s been adapted from, and doesn’t stray much from the source material; so no, there are no big surprises if you’ve read (and re-read) the book.
The movie itself is good, even though I will be the first to tell you that as soon as the Mrs. leave — Oprah Winfrey (Mrs. Which), Reese Witherspoon (Mrs. Whatsit), Mindy Kaling (Mrs. Who) — things slowly start to fall apart and also radically speed up. The third act of the movie feels like it could be a completely separate film, and I wish there was more breathing room to explain these high concepts of good vs. evil, and raise the stakes a bit more. It’s choppy, but considering colors are coming at you as if they’re being shot out of a cannon and the score IS VERY LOUD, it’s easier just to accept whatever the heck is happening on screen. And a LOT is happening.
So let’s circle back to Meg, which is why we’re really here. We’re here to talk about Meg Murry, played by charming newcomer Storm Reid, and how her journey is our journey.
Meg doubts herself from literally the second the movie opens, and watching her slowly realize she’s more than what she thinks is absolutely breathtaking. The care and consideration that DuVernay has put into shaping Meg into a character we have all at one point been, and can absolutely relate to, is what will make you cry hysterically in the theater. Meg is every single teenage girl out there who is questioned and judged for what she does and doesn’t do. Self-doubt has already been instilled in her, and since she doesn’t yet know anything else, she believes that’s who she’s going to be for the rest of her life. She doesn’t know she’s capable of greater things — and I’m not saying her mother, Dr. Kate Murry (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw) hasn’t tried to instill these things in her. But that society has already told Meg her place, and it takes THE ENTIRE COSMOS to show her that society is wrong.
You either relate a little to Meg, or you relate A LOT TO MEG. At the end of the movie, you realize that while, sure, there are swirling celestial beings, Meg’s journey to find her own inner greatness is universal. All Meg needed was a push in the right direction to unlock her potential, and it’s not even a huge push. It’s Calvin commenting that she seems to know a lot about physics; it’s Oprah reminding her that she’s beautiful, too; it’s the Happy Medium (Zach Galifianakis having the time of his life) telling Meg it’s okay to be afraid and make mistakes.
All these little things, that you might not even realize are working as positive reinforcements, reshape Meg’s outlook on life. She comments that she wants to go back to Earth after this journey as a new person, and in the end, she does. Meg returns a hero, and it’s who she always was. She just needed to take a quick tesser around the galaxy to realize it.