Review of the novel to film adaptation (2017)
Cast: Isabella Blake-Thomas, Holland Taylor, Kelly Lynch, Sean Patrick Flannery, Steven Michael Quezada, Esperanza Fermin
Director: Amy Glazer
Synopsis: Eleven-year-old Ella (Isabella Blake-Thomas) is a city girl forced to spend the summer on the New Mexico ranch of her reclusive grandmother, Violet Von Stern (Holland Taylor), while Ella’s mom (Kelly Lynch) undergoes chemotherapy in another state. As she tries to cope with her grandmother’s strict rules and snooty friends, Ella longs for her mother and begs her estranged father for rescue. But Ella’s dad (Sean Patrick Flanery) has his own reasons to stay away from his childhood home. Meanwhile, Ella finds allies in fatherly ranch hand Miguel (Steven Michael Quezada) and his down-to-earth daughter, Rosie (Esperanza Fermin). But when a priceless book is stolen from Violet’s collection, Miguel is the key suspect, and Ella must find the real thief to save her friends. Emotional connections are reshaped, and a family that was lost finds its way. The music of Patrick Neil Doyle helps tell this unusual and heartwarming story.
Based off of the novel, a brewing mystery takes place as a young girl must undertake not only the stress of family matters, but also face the uncertainties and disbelief of others.
When Ella (Isabella Blake-Thomas) visits New Mexico to live with her grandmother Violet Von Stern (Holland Taylor), she is placed in situations that cause her to mature much faster thanany child should be asked. With the progressing chemotherapy of her mother (Kelly Lynch) and the mystery of Kepler, a highly valued book, gone missing. Ella faces the overwhelming situations around her with wit and strength.
Amy Glazer directs a film that not only forges a bond between the viewer and Ella, but also fully develops supporting cast along the way to give life and depth to the other cast members as well. Furthermore, the plot is graciously propelled by the surprisingly strong child actress, Isabella Blake-Thomas, the unique character Holland Taylor portrays, and the supporting roles of Steven Michael Quezada and Sean Patrick Flanery. As for the filmography, the setting was a rare treat to see New Mexico not only utilized, but also decorated to be visually pleasing throughout all the captures.
The film sets an enduring pace, constantly introducing new plot point’s or character development. Patrick Neil Doyle orchestrates music that subtly conveys emotion of the characters that help viewers further understand the intensity and emotion of individual performances. However, the overall immersion is occasionally interrupted by spotty acting or rough dialogue forcing a break in the digestible classic mystery with a twist.
While recognizing the cast as being authentic, omitting a few clunky moments, the story is lacking. The entire film does not portray any severity or noticeable urgency. This is the most noticeable shortcoming of the film and is somewhat disheartening to witness the growing drama with lack of execution.
Overall, Kepler’s Dream builds realistic drama and emotion. At its’ roots, the cast shines throughout the film creating an overall positive viewing experience.
Alex – The Boondoggle podcast