Arriving to theaters and On Demand on the first of December is one of the most heartwarming movies of 2017, Kepler's Dream. If you're looking for inspirational movies of 2017 to watch this holiday season, then Kepler's Dream should be on the top of your list. Based on the acclaimed young adult novel of the same name by Juliet Bell, the picture is co-written and directed by Amy Glazer (Seducing Charlie Barker). The film has a runtime of 90 minutes, and it features an impressive cast of artists who all deliver award-worthy performances: Isabella Blake-Thomas (Shameless), Holland Taylor (Legally Blond), Kelly Lynch (Charlie's Angels), Esperanza Fermin (making her feature-length debut), Steven Michael Quezada (Breaking Bad), and Sean Patrick Flanery (The Boondock Saints).
The story centers on Ella (Blake-Thomas), an 11-year-old girl whose heart is as big as her imagination. Because her mother (Lynch) is undergoing chemotherapy in another state, Ella is forced to spend her summer on her grandmother's New Mexico ranch. Seemingly, her grandmother, Violet (Taylor), is not a fan of children and has a plethora of strict rules. A young girl who prefers the city to the country, Ella feels like a stranger in a strange land.
Trying to emotionally manage her mother's situation and her grandmother's strict ways, Ella looks to her estranged father, Walt (Flanery), to come rescue her. But Walt has his own reasons for staying away from his childhood home. Longing for her father and for comfort, Ella finds relief in her new friends: the caring ranch hand, Miguel (Quezada), and his daughter Rosie (Fermin). But after an invaluable book is stolen from Violet's collection, Miguel is the key suspect. To save her new friends, Ella must find the real thief who took the treasured book.
The film is shot brilliantly, and the picturesque landscapes and angles captured by Glazer are paralleled only by the storytelling and the performances of the actors. Isabella Blake-Thomas perfectly captures the essence of a preteen, filled with imagination and wonder, who is forced to deal with the harsh realities of life. In one of her best movies from an impressive career, per her usual, Holland Taylor gives a shining performance as the sarcastic and witty grandmother.
Steven Michael Quezada portrays the fatherly character of Miguel to a tee. Miguel brings to the table something that the other characters don't, a grounding and depth of the family history. He also symbolizes a strength and rock that Ella has lacked in her life because of the absence of her dad.
Sean Patrick Flanery gives a standout performance as Walt. Where many actors would play this type of character straightforward, Flanery gives Walt depth. But the layers of Walt that's revealed to the audience is not done so by over exposition, but by nuances and storytelling done in a very real way.
Kepler's Dream is one of those movies that everyone, regardless of age, can not only enjoy—but can learn by. Yes, the movie is about a young girl dealing with adult-like situations. Yes, the movie is also a mystery that young adults are likely to be captured by. But the crux of the film is about healing. All of us are faced with situations in our life and within our family that aren't ideal, and this story reveals how healing can be accomplished in a realistic way.
With stunning direction, award-winning performances, and a story that will stay with the audience long after the credits role, Kepler's Dream is one of the best movies of 2017, and it's a must-watch this holiday season.
[Featured Image by Leomark Studios]