Directed and co-written by Amy Glazer, Kepler’s Dream is an adaptation of a novel of the same name by Juliet Bell. It stars Isabella Blake-Thomas as the young girl “Ella”, who is forced to stay at “Broken Family Camp” with her strict grandmother, “Violet von Stern” (Holland Taylor). The theft of a valuable book from Violet’s collection is blamed on an innocent, and Ella is determined to find the real thief. Her findings, unexpectedly lead her to learn new things about her own family. (KIZJ: 3/5)
Review by FF2 Associate Katusha Jin
“Ella” (Isabella Blake-Thomas) is a young girl who is used to life in the city. When her mother, “Amy” (Kelly Lynch), has to be hospitalized to receive chemotherapy treatment, Ella reaches out to her distant father, “Walt” (Sean Patrick Flanery). To Amy’s disbelief, Walt explains that he cannot look after his daughter and instead suggests she live with her grandmother, “Violet von Stern” (Holland Taylor). The eleven-year-old girl is left with no choice but to spend her summer on the New Mexico ranch. Before leaving, Amy recommends that her daughter take a look at Violet’s library and ask about the Kepler book, which Ella learns is the first science-fiction book written by Kepler 400 years ago.
During her stay, Ella nicknames her grandmother “GM” (short for General Major), learns about her father’s childhood, and befriends the ranch hand, “Miguel” (Steven Michael), and his daughter, “Rosie” (Esperanza Fermin). One night, Ella is haunted by images of her mother at the hospital, only to be woken up by Rosie knocking on the window. Her father has gone missing and gunshots firings are heard. Although Miguel soon returns, Violet’s prized possession, Kepler’s Dream of the Moon, goes missing and Miguel is now the prime suspect.
In one of Ella’s letters to her mother, she describes her grandmother’s reaction to the theft of the book as though it was the loss of a life. She misses her father and leaves a message just to say hello. Rosie and Ella catch onto some sneaking around between “Abercrombie” (David Hunt), another occupant at the ranch, and his nephew “Jackson” (Stafford Douglas), who is cataloguing Violet’s books. As Abercrombie suspiciously takes his leave, Ella’s dad comes for a surprise visit. Whilst the dynamic between Walt and Violet is uncomfortable, the ice between Ella and her grandmother begins to melt.
The movie is sprinkled with sweet elements of a young girl’s yearning for love from her family. The screenplay is bland and lacks the spark that could have given the audience a stronger emotional connection with the story. Although there are promising moments, the level of acting is inconsistent and more direction could have aided the portrayal of characters. Amy Glazer delivers a child-friendly film with plenty of likable characters. Kepler’s Dream is not a movie to watch for a twist, but the traditional fairytale story stays in line with what is expected of a movie directed at a young audience.
© Katusha Jin (12/03/17) FF2 Media
Top Photo: “Violet von Stern” (Holland Taylor), reading Kepler’s Dream of the Moon.
Middle Photo: “Amy” (Kelly Lynch) receiving chemotherapy treatment.
Bottom Photo: Ella, “Miguel” (Steven Michael), and “Rosie” (Esperanza Fermin) near the ranch.
Photo Credits: Lewis Jacobs
Does Kepler’s Dream pass the Bechdel-Wallace test?
“Ella” (Isabella Blake-Thomas) and her mother, “Amy” (Kelly Lynch), talk about living on the ranch with “Violet von Stern” (Holland Taylor).