“KEPLER’S DREAM” is based on the YA novel by Juliet Bell. It tells the story of 11-year-old Ella who is sent to spend the summer with her grandmother that she has never met, while her mother undergoes Leukemia treatments. Young Ella has trouble relating with her grandmothers methods, and understanding why she is so connected with her collection of rare books. Until one of them is stolen and Ella makes it her mission to find it. A journey that will give her answers to why the family is so fractured.
Director Amy Glazer was successfully able to craft a heartwarming film that utilized the talent of the cast perfectly. The story progression was steady. There are no unneeded layers to the story and it does progress in a rather predictable direction. However that does not hinder anything this film sets out to accomplish. This story explores relationship dynamics, various character-arcs, and it maintains this focus throughout to build intrigue. As the story unfolds so does the understanding of the characters. Resulting in a story itself that was simplistic, yet filled with characters that had many layers, which was a compelling mix.
The performances were all effective in delivering the intended impact for each of their roles. Young Isabella Blake-Thomas carries this film on her shoulders. She was able to capture the essence of an inquisitive kid that was mature for her age. But she was still able to come across as a natural little girl which is something that helped build an organic connection to her as the lead. She is dealing with her sick mother, and a grandmother that is reclusive to the point of coming off as emotionally dead. She is trying to get in touch with her estranged father to pick her up with little results, and she is in a secluded ranch. Yet she never loses her charisma. She is stuck in the middle of a family filled with past issues and she doesn’t know why. Thus, when this book that her mother insisted on her reading while she was there goes missing, Ella’s determination to find it was instinctively compelling to watch.
Holland Taylor was excellent in her role as the snobbish grandmother who stuck to herself, secluded from the family in her country ranch. She seems to only care about her collection of books, and maintaining a sophisticated etiquette, and Taylor pulls it off with ease. She is hiding in her own world, and emotionally detached for an unknown reason, and watching her interact with her young house-guest was captivating. Taylor and Blake-Thomas work off one another extremely well to create an engaging chemistry that felt fitting for the situation. It was interesting to watch the relationship between them galvanize throughout the story-line, and this element was greatly aided by their performances. Sean Patrick Flannery, Kelly Lynch, and Steven Michael Quezada all add substance to their roles as well to round out a cast of appealing characters. Some have more screen-time than others, but their experienced acting talents do add depth to their portrayals.
The settings and locations were all visually appealing to pull the viewer into the world of the story. The camerawork captures the beautiful backdrops frequently but it never over-relies on silent imagery to extend the run-time. The natural landscapes are woven nicely into the scene transitions and it gives the film a warm feeling overall. The script explores a collection of emotionally impactful narratives. Yet it doesn’t weigh things down and the dramatic punch is felt without the need for melodramatics. Which naturally make it more enjoyable for a general audience.
This film can connect with viewers of a wide age range, and families can take this story in, and appreciate the positive tone it weaves. No family is perfect, and fractured relationships are a reality. The story explores how one event can cause a ripple effect for different members of the family and that even if time has passed, families can still come back together. “Kepler’s Dream” is an inspirational film that will simply make you feel good after watching, and I recommend it when it’s released on December 1st.