Sep 182012

Ruby Sparks

Imagine if you wrote your dream man or woman into existence? That’s exactly what writer Calvin did in the delightful, yet slightly dark Ruby Sparks. Review after the jump.

Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) is a young writer who has not yet been able to follow-up his extremely successful début novel. The lonely writer dreams of a beautiful red-haired girl who he decides to write about; the more he writes about her the deeper in love with the idea of her he falls. She becomes so real in his head that he one day awakes to find her in his kitchen, offering him breakfast. Ruby (Zoe Kazan) is the wide-eyed, spirited girl that he has always dreamed of. Could this woman he wrote really be in his house, or is there a far more logical explanation? Calvin is not exactly the most mentally stable person, so it’s not hard to believe that she is just in his head.  A trip out of the house confirms that is she real and other people can see her too. Now that he has willed his dream girl into existence what should he do with her? If he made her, can her also mold her…?

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Ruby Sparks is for the most part utterly charming and quite funny – while it does take a darker turn in the 2nd half, there is a very adorable feel about the whole thing – bright colours, fun music, and quirky characters. Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris who directed indie hit Little Miss Sunshine have found their niche, and they do it very well. While this didn’t reach the same heights as that film, there is plenty to admire and enjoy here. Calvin is a fascinating character with some serious issues, and I found it really interesting to see his struggles with his passion. Paul Dano delivers a superb performance here, he was the absolute standout in this film – he infuses the character with just the right neurotic edge.

This is Zoe Kazan’s first feature-film writing effort, and it has certainly put her on my radar. While I felt the film got a little stale in the later stages, and the ending rates as one of the worst I have seen recently (I actually groaned out loud), there were plenty of comedic moments and home-truths about relationships and power in the film. She also turns in a great performance as Ruby, and the chemistry and intensity between her and Dano was palpable. It really is a shame that the later stages of the film got so repetitive and meandering – I was totally with the film for the first 45 minutes. Ruby Sparks is certainly worth a look, even if only for the first half and the fantastic performance from Dano. A fun yet imperfect film (much like Ruby herself).


The Facts

Director(s): Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Writer(s): Zoe Kazan
Starring: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas
Runtime: 104 minutes
Release date(s): Australia & New Zealand: September 20 2012