Ruby Sparks Reviews
In its epistemological themes and its depiction of malignant patriarchy, Ruby Sparks is profound and intellectually satisfying, and it's to the film's credit that it balances heavy philosophical issues with comic relief. The creation of a dream girl, a quirky and willing beauty, seems attractive on its face, but the power this task involves makes one question whether it is appropriate. And once God - the author Calvin in this case - is given too much power, what happens to the automaton, his creation. *Spoiler Alert* The theme is better expressed had it ended sooner, without the expectation of happiness.
Paul Dano is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors. His lanky mawkishness is balance by the clarity of his expression, and he has a talent for choosing only the most promising projects.
Overall, I really liked this film because it's both deep and enjoyable on the surface.
This film is one of the many reasons I love Independent films. They always bring fresh and unique scripts to the screen. I can't wait to see what else Kazan does in the future.
Now about the movie; It's a good look at how both men and women dream up the perfect person think they have found them and then get disappointed when they find a flaw. Once the flaw is found we try to change the person into what we want them to be. This is a perfect film to show that it never works. You have to love the person complete with flaws and all. We are who we are and we shouldn't have to feel the need to change one another and maybe if we just started accepting the flaws and imperfections within each other then maybe more relationships would last. Too many spend so much time trying to change their better halves instead of just enjoying the time and company of them. So let this film be a lesson to us all.
Paul Dano plays Calvin, a young novelist who peaked far too early, and is now struggling, but with his career and with his love life. Upon receiving a writing assignment from his therapist, he creates a woman named Ruby who inspires him. Things get nuts when his dream woman literally comes alive, completely unaware of her real origin.
This is a really quirky and imaginative set up for a movie, and I have to give Zoe Kazan a lot of credit as both the screenwriter as the actress playing Ruby. Her performance is strong, but her writing...not so much. It's good, for the most part, but ultimately rather uneven and kinda messy.
That's a good way to sum up the film overall. It's got a lot of potential, and it gets a lot of stuff right, but it's all over the map, and feels conflicted about what it's trying to say or do.
Like I said, it is a good premise, and they do play with it, but not as much as I figured they would. Dano and Kazan are good, but a lot of the notable supporting cast aren't given nearly enough to do, namely Coogan, Benning, Gould, and Banderas.
I did like this movie, but, like the film itself, I'm all over the place with how I feel about it. I'm more pleased than not, but ultimately feel it could have been somewhat better conceived, and definitely better executed.
Major spoilers *salute*
There are humorous moments - Paul Dano's physical comedy when Calvin discovers Ruby is real; there are dramatic moments - Ruby wanting more space in the relationship and Calvin fears losing her; there are darkly comedic moments - Calvin playing God and making Ruby Overly-Attached Girlfriend "I MISS YOU RIGHT NOW!!!"; and there are intense, disturbing moments - the climax of Calvin literally trapping Ruby in the room and making her dance like a puppet.
Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) is struggling writer who once wrote a 'genius' novel when he was 19 years old. The trouble is, he's now struggling for material and suffers from writer's-block. On the advice of his therapist (Elliott Gould), he begins to write about a girl that has been appearing in his dreams: Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan). The next day, Ruby becomes a real person and they both strike up a beautiful and loving relationship. What Calvin then realises is, that if he can will her into existence by writing about her, then he can change her at any time and make her do what he wants by writing more.
Not many films built around romance have had the audacity to explore the very nature of love itself and the stipulations that seemingly come with it. It's a genre I'm not fond of but that's only because most are catered for the masses. This film dares to explore the complexities of a relationship and the stipulations that both sides make. It questions whether we can really love a person, wholeheartedly, without their indiscretions ever becoming irritating or intolerable. It also addresses the nature of dominance within a relationship and how that, in itself, is destructive.
Therein lies the beauty and honesty of this film; it's not afraid to pose these questions and it's also not afraid to explore the darker elements to it's premise or get it's hands dirty when it needs to. After a gentler, more romantic-comedy beginning, filled with wonderful touches of light and observational humour, the denouement takes a brave, impressive and twisted dramatic turn, that shows the darker side to the fantasy. Wisely, the film's fantasy premise is never explained. This may irk some viewers but really, the film wouldn't have gained anything by trying to break it down. Quite frankly, it just wouldn't have worked but that's testament to the filmmakers, the terrific ensemble of actors and most importantly Zoe Kazan's highly original screenplay as they all have you believing in them, even when you know you shouldn't. Once you've accepted the premise, you can sit back and enjoy the excellent performances all round; Dano, once again, displays his more than capable acting chops with a character that is often, and cleverly, likened to writer J.D. Salinger and wonderful comic-relief comes in the form of Bening and Banderas as new-age hippie parents. The biggest surprise is from the screenwriter and eponymous Zoe Kazan though; she brings a real warmth and creativity that manages just the right balance and allows her to flit in-between moods with ease. Without such an endearing and understanding performance, the film wouldn't have worked as well as it does.
With excellent performances all round, and a great mixture of humour and pathos this is one of 2012's genuinely surprising highlights. Like "Little Miss Sunshine" before it, this is a real treat.
My first thought, after the unexpectedly distributing, dark climax to this film was "When was the last time I completely got lost in a world and its characters in this way?". I can't call this s perfect film, and the direction isn't overly memorable, so what is it? It's a simple enough lesson in control that clearly resonated a lot with me.
It's control, and it's about learning to care. If your dream appeared before you, without you working for it, would you care and cultivate it? Your creation is a part of you, and if this creation is a real person, sure you can write til your heart's content, but there will be blanks that person will fill in. When those blanks go in an unexpected direction, you act to change it immediately This person is not a separate thing to you. You don't care or consider what this person is feeling. It is ultimately a puppet, and something you cannot grow with.
Then you step back and look at what this film and many films in general are doing to you. As Dano writes another line and takes Ruby in another direction, the writer and director are manipulating us in that very same manner. Dano showing Ruby that piece of paper, saying "hey, look at what I'm doing to you whether you're aware or not" feels like a message Kazan is trying to get across to us.
Most times, you're not acutely aware you're being manipulated. As long as it's for a few hours inside a theatre before you had back to reality, I'm ok with it.
5 stars if it had ended ten minutes sooner.