Ruby Sparks

The directors of Oscar-winning Little Miss Sunshine (Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris) return with this tale about an awkward and unconventional relationship, written by Zoe Kazan, who also stars in the title role of Ruby. Unconventional may be an understatement, however.

Paul Dano plays Calvin, an author who wrote a best-selling novel at the age of 19. The film is set ten years later, though, and he still hasn’t written anything else. Afraid of falling into obscurity due to writers’ block, and plagued by the fear that the only women that will date him are those who read his book when they were at high school, he seeks out the help of Psychiatrist Dr. Rosenthal (Elliot Gould). Rosenthal assigns him a task to solve both his problems: write a story about his ideal woman.

The task consumes Calvin, and he spends days at a time writing about his dream girl, Ruby Sparks (oddly enough, Dano and Kazan are real-life lovers). You know the sort: the impulsive, free-spirited, Zooey Deschanel-type. His brother reads the manuscript, and warns him that nobody would read the novel, as girls like this don’t really exist. Then without warning, Calvin bumps into Ruby in his kitchen.

Somehow, Calvin has willed his ideal woman into existence, and she has no idea that she is a figment of his imagination… except she’s more than that, because everyone can see and hear her. Calvin stops writing his story, and begins living it, as Ruby continues to exist without his magical/literary input.

I’ll admit, I find it a bit weird that the two lead roles are played by a real-life couple, especially considering that the relationship they’re portraying is so weird. On the other hand though, I guess it gives them that chemistry that only an acting couple could have. The cast are all amazing, with cameos from Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas and Steve Coogan (who yet again seems to be playing a meta version of himself). The soundtrack is great too, and as I write this I am listening to Plastic Bertrand as a result of the film.

Overall, the film starts off as an adorable story that’ll make you go ‘Aww’, but as it progresses you think ‘I’ve seen this story about an attractive, yet socially-awkward skinny boy and his whimsical impulsive love interest before…’. Then, of course, it slaps you in the face as it subverts the genre and gets all creepy and sinister, leaving you muttering under your breath ‘I don’t want to watch, I don’t like where this is going at all.’

[Joseph Nelson]

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