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We Saw the Adaptation of A WRINKLE IN TIME and We Have Some Thoughts

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Patricia Elzie-Tuttle

Contributing Editor

Patricia Elzie-Tuttle is a writer, podcaster, librarian, and information fanatic who appreciates potatoes in every single one of their beautiful iterations. Patricia earned a B.A. in Creative Writing and Musical Theatre from the University of Southern California and an MLIS from San Jose State University. Her weekly newsletter, Enthusiastic Encouragement & Dubious Advice, offers self-improvement and mental health advice, essays, and resources that pull from her experience as a queer, Black, & Filipina person existing in the world. More of her written work can also be found in Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Our Radical Anatomy edited by Kelly Jensen, and, if you’re feeling spicy, in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 4 edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel. Patricia has been a Book Riot contributor since 2016 and is currently co-host of the All the Books! podcast and one of the weekly writers of the Read This Book newsletter. She lives in Oakland, CA on unceded Ohlone land with her wife and a positively alarming amount of books. Find her on her website, Twitter, Instagram, Bluesky, and LinkTree.

This post contains spoilers for the movie A Wrinkle in Time. If you have not yet seen A Wrinkle in Time and do not want the movie spoiled for you, do not read this post.

We Saw the Adaptation of A WRINKLE IN TIME and We Have Some Thoughts |

A number of Rioters saw A Wrinkle in Time and we have a wide variety of feelings and thoughts about it. Below are some of those feelings.

Patricia Elzie-Tuttle

I started crying twice before the movie even started. They showed a preview for Mary Poppins Returns. I cried. Ava DuVernay came on screen to introduce the feature film. I cried again. Throughout the film I cried repeatedly. Or perhaps continuously. I’m not sure. The lines are blurred. It is rare that I find a piece of media in which I see myself reflected back at me. First, let’s start with the Murry family. It is a mix of Black, Filipino, and white. I myself am a mix of Black, Filipino, and white and this is the first time I recall ever having seen a family that reflects mine in the media. EVER. I also deeply appreciate Meg’s natural hair that behaves like natural hair. Meg’s hair looks like mine. I have seen hair like mine in the media before but whenever I do, it’s always perfect. Somehow each and every curl is exactly where it should be and it remains so. Meg’s hair gets messy because she is a kid on an adventure traveling through time and space and you know what, there is no product that will keep your hair from going frizzy or lopsided when you’re doing all that. Meg’s hair was not only natural, but it was realistic. One of the most poignant visuals for me in the film was when the IT showed Meg the ideal, popular version of herself. The ideal Meg had straight hair. I hear you, Ava. Your message has been received. Finally, when Oprah looks into Meg’s face and says, “Be a warrior,” it felt like she was talking directly at me—so shit, I guess I’m a warrior now! My advice is to not go into this movie expecting it to be exactly like the book. It’s a separate piece of art that is, as the book, geared toward children. Is it fantastic? No. But I liked it and I think it is important.

Ashley Holstrom

I never read the book and my movie-going experience was determined by a friend’s birthday celebration. A diverse cast with just a few white people? A giant, glittering Oprah? Sure. Count me in. But I was surprised by how much this moved me. I love the visualization of the IT, the darkness, the evil of the world. My interpretation of the IT is depression, with its sharp tentacles of hate, and I felt like this movie was speaking to me. Believe, balance, fight. Be a warrior. I teared up a LOT. This movie is a beautiful glitter bomb of diversity and wonder. I am so happy it exists in this scary world we live in. Go see it now.

Katisha Smith

First of all, I need that sparkly makeup Queen Oprah was rocking, and I need to floss bedazzled eyebrows at least once a week starting today. Okay, now to get serious…I read A Wrinkle In Time (for the first time ever!) before seeing the movie because I wanted to go in with a certain level of understanding about the story. The book made me even more excited to see the story come to life in theaters. I know Meg is the hero of the story, but I really loved that precocious sidekick Charles Wallace! He believed in Meg even when she didn’t believe in herself and convinced the Mrs. Ws that Meg was the warrior they needed. We all need that kind of teammate in our corner! My only slight disappointment was the exclusion of Aunt Beast. I was really looking forward to seeing “her” on screen. In the book, Aunt Beast played a very important role in helping Meg realize she was the only person who could save Charles Wallace, and I would have liked to see that. Gather the whole family and go see this film! It looks beautiful, and it has a great message that would benefit us all during these dark and difficult times. However, I warn lovers of the original text to not expect an apples to apples interpretation. The movie has obviously taken license with the story, but the adaptation still gives us a story of girl who is unsure of the power that lies within her and how love helps her realize that power.

Danika Ellis

I was a sobbing mess in this movie, wow. I saw one review that said “A Wrinkle In Time is Not For Cynics,” and I have to agree. It’s so earnest. I was so invested in Meg’s journey. She goes from someone who quietly hates herself to a girl finally allowing herself that not only is she loved, but that she deserves to be loved. She goes from the pain of not wanting to return to her own skin to the sublime joy of self love. I loved that at the heart of this family is Meg and Charles Wallace’s devotion to each other. Meg is enraged and horrified by the idea that her father might leave him behind to save her. She rejects it. The love she has for her father and brother is so fierce that it overpowers anyone trying to control her. (Which makes it all the more satisfying when she allows herself that same love.) There are some things that are only lightly touched on that affected me the most. Meg’s relationship with her father is complex. The way I read the end scene was Meg realizing that he had profoundly disappointed her—betrayed her and their family—but that didn’t mean she didn’t love him. She just accepted that he was a flawed person. Like she accepts that about herself. That doesn’t mean they’re not worthy of love. I was surprised how much this movie affected me. I hope that this reaches all the kids who need it.

Alyssa Eleanor Ross

Okay. I’m not made of stone, here. I cried at least three times during this movie, and I was so excited about seeing it that I designed a special outfit to wear that would honor both L’Engle (Out of Print t-shirt modeled after the first edition of her masterpiece) and DuVernay (shiny white disco pants and sparkly rainbow boots). I loved the multicultural cast. I loved everything about Meg, especially the moments when we got to see Meg and her father being a kid and a dad together. I loved hearing Mrs. Which announce “Wwweeee aaarreee heeerrre!”—I read and reread the Time quartet obsessively for roughly the entire decade between when I turned nine and when I turned nineteen, and hearing those words aloud was like watching a comatose family member sit up and smile. I loved (how could you not??) the aesthetic of the movie as a whole: it was absolutely dazzling visually, from the makeup on Mrs. Whatsit, Who, and Which to the eerie beach scene on Camazotz. And apropos of the beach scene, even as a devotee of L’Engle’s books, I didn’t mind all the spots where DuVernay’s vision deviated from L’Engle’s. I was into the neuron imagery DuVernay used to show what IT looked like (as opposed to portraying IT as an enormous brain), and the way those neurons doubled as horrifyingly spreading cancer cells. I was entranced by Mrs. Who and her newly-diversified array of quotes. I liked Zach Galifianakis as the Happy Medium (although, I’ll be honest: I got my hopes up for gayness when Mrs. Whatsit said she knew a “cute” psychic, and now I have some very important fan fiction to write). I get that it would have been hard to include Sandy and Dennys and Aunt Beast meaningfully in a two-hour film.

But. In some cases, the movie differentiated from the book in ways that felt reductive to me. A lot of DuVernay’s Charles Wallace’s dialogue came from L’Engle’s Meg’s internal monologue or from the Mrs. Murry of the book, and a lot of it didn’t work fantastically for a five- or six-year-old boy. I missed the Charles Wallace who was emotionally intelligent as well as intellectually intelligent—enough so that he wouldn’t have yelled at an authority figure about Meg’s “potential.” I missed the warmth of Mrs. Whatsit, and it made me sad when the Reese Witherspoon version of that character repeatedly expressed doubts about Meg’s worthiness. And like Alyssa Rosenberg and Christine Emba, who wrote about this in the Washington Post, I missed the high stakes against which Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin were struggling. In the movie, IT makes teenage girls diet; in the book, that evil caused wars. In A Swiftly Tilting Planet, a book that came later in L’Engle’s series, Meg and Charles Wallace even went up against nuclear war (which is probably why I kept rereading that book during the teenage years I spent terrified of the end of the world). I know that degree of violence was cut out of the DuVernay movie at least in part to make it more accessible to children, but I fear that the movie went too far in the opposite direction of hiding real darkness from kids. Overall: yes, this is a dazzling movie, but it feels designed more for dazzle than for depth to me. Considering how much I relied on the deeper meanings in L’Engle’s text as a child, the result was that I left the theater feeling loss as well as joy.

Nikki DeMarco

I loved that the only purpose of Calvin in the movie was to make moon-eyes at Meg and tell her how nice her hair is. I was frustrated and felt like he didn’t serve a purpose to the movie at all until I realized that he was playing a role usually filled by a woman fawning over a male hero and pumping up his ego. Which leads me to Meg’s faults being the source of her power to conquer the It: I love that they aren’t the typical “girl” faults. She’s not shy or a pushover. Her faults are that she’s suspicious and impulsive and doesn’t trust easily. Real-life faults, not fairytale faults. Her bravery to continue loving her little brother even when he was vehemently pushing her away brought me to tears. And hoo boy, did I cry when she finally found her dad. Chris Pine as America’s dad forever.

Romeo Rosales, Jr.

I actually liked A Wrinkle In Time a lot. As a reader, of course, I feel the book was much better but the movie was not bad. I sat with my wife and son and could see the joy on my son’s face as he watched the movie. I reminisced about when I was a child and enjoyed the book as much as my four-year-old son was enjoying the movie. I also loved the inclusion of people of color. As a Hispanic, I was proud to see people of color represented in the film. Overall, I just felt the film was genuine and stayed true to the book, for the most part. If I could rate the movie on a scale of 1–10, I would give the movie like an 8.0.

Nicole Froio

I think this movie could have been a lot better. As a stan of the original, I found that as an adaptation it fell flat; one of the compelling things about A Wrinkle in Time (the book) is that it posits “order” as a potential evil, and it encourages Meg and Calvin to challenge authority and question what is true. I don’t feel like this came through the film at all, despite it being a stunning film visually and so important in terms of representation. I ultimately don’t regret seeing the movie and supporting the work of Ava DuVernay, but I was expecting something very different and I feel that the screenplay didn’t quite deliver the magic and nuances of the book.

What did you think about the adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time?