Spoiler Alert: herein I talk about the movie and some differences between the film and the book, so if you haven’t seen it and want to judge it for yourself, do wait to read this. (I wrote this Thursday night, but set it to publish Saturday morning. We decided to go ahead and take the family and see it. We’re cool like that. Or nerdy like that. Or something. It was a 7:00 movie. We wouldn’t have done some crazy midnight thing. We’re too old and the kids are too young. There were about 10 people in the theater. Our town is a tough sell. I hope it is doing better elsewhere.)
I thought it was moving and terrific and I loved Storm Reid’s Meg.
I know the book so well, I’ve been trying not to nit-pick it, but they did skip my favorite Mrs Who quote, “The heart has its reasons whereof reason knows nothing” Pascal. They also skipped my favorite part, the section with Aunt Beast where the ice in Meg’s heart thaws and she learns to forgive her father.
There are other changes; some of them make sense and some are baffling, but I’m trying not to nit-pick.
Movie Mom thinks the film fails with Charles Wallace, and I am inclined to agree, but my almost 9-year-old son loved him and loved the film. I’ll take that.
Three and a half years ago, when Jennifer Lee of Frozen was announced as a screenwriter, Kristin and I had a conversation about the upcoming film and casting decisions (Can Meg be Unattractive? (me) and Heroines Plain and Awkward (Kristin)).
By the time Ava DuVernay was announced as director, and her plan of using mixed race kids for the main characters was announced, I had almost completely fallen off blogging. It was probably on that ubiquitous social networking site that I said I was excited about the casting. It seemed to me to be a brilliant way to update L’Engle’s themes and to allow for Meg’s social outsider status. They did not make that explicit in the film; there were no racial epithets thrown at her or anything, but it existed in the subtext, the foundations for the character. Storm Reid was excellent; she was angry and awkward and stubborn and suspicious and brave and loving and passionate. She was also lovely. She just was. In this case, I think I’m okay with that.
One interesting move they made was to include flashbacks of the Drs. Murry. In that way, they were much more a part of the story arc than they are in the book. I don’t know yet what I think about that.
I have to admit I am more disappointed than I thought I would be at the erasure of the specific Christian references. The themes are there, more or less, but the references are gone, even though other religious figures are named. L’Engle was so much the kind of inclusive, loving Christian that it would be nice to hold up, and her faith was so integral to her identity and work, I’m a little sad. It wouldn’t have had to be prominent or pushy. Just there, in the list of light-bringers. Or as a quote alongside Buddha and Rumi and Miranda. With all the darkness and light imagery and language, I kept waiting for someone to say “the light shines in the darkness.” I understand, and I am disappointed.
I also realized that I struggled to get a feel for the film as a whole because I spent the whole time wondering what they were going to do with the next scene. I would like to watch it again now that I know so I can simply enjoy what is there instead of wondering how they will adapt it.