Ruby Sparks Reviews
Cleverly conceived - if not completely original - by the films headlining actress Zoe Kazan; to entrance viewers with the magic of situation and the realism of reaction, Ruby Sparks is a lighthearted existential jaunt. Subconsciously escaping the mundane life of a truly lonely existence by allowing ones perception of the ideal partner to turn from a dream into reality, the emotional stakes have been raised, opening the door to a genuine opportunity for self-discovery.
Twenty-nine year old writer, Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) is unmistakably uncomfortable with being so phenomenally successful at such an early stage of his career. The 'genius' recluse suffers from an interesting combination of writers block, social awkwardness and perpetual singledom. Holed up in his lavish house-in-the-hills apartment, he instinctively shies away from the 10th anniversary release celebrations of his first (and only) novel and the repetitive pressured discussions of his next project.
Under the instruction of his ever patient shrink, Dr. Rosenthal (Elliot Gould), Calvin acquires companionship in scruffy little dog named Scotty, whose role is to get Calvin out of the house and meeting new people. But like- owner like-pet, Scotty has his own set of complex issues.
Changing tactics, Dr. Rosenthal tasks Calvin with a one page writing project focused on just one person who likes Scotty - just the way he is. Calvin's fingers all of a sudden explode to life, soaring across the keys of his old Olympia typewriter as he articulates a complicated redhead painter from Ohio named Ruby (Zoe Kazan).
Unable to stay away from this inspiring fictitious beauty, Calvin becomes obsessed by the character he has created and lives for typing-time with her. Not unlike the blank pages on which he writes, Calvin's life is white and clinical, until some bizarre items materialize - a small red bra, a pair of purple underwear and one morning, a quirky redhead in the kitchen whipping up eggs for breakfast.
Flabbergasted by the idea that his words could conjure up a flesh and blood person, Calvin's initial response is to ignore the situation. But when his brother Harry (Chris Messina) and the world at large agree she is in fact corporeal, Calvin allows the lines between fiction and real life to blur, engaging in a relationship with the figment of his imagination.
Will he discover the true meaning of the old adage 'be careful what you wish for'? If love doesn't run smoothly, will temptation lead him to abuse his new found power, changing her once endearing charms as they turn into insufferable eccentricities? Can happily-ever-after really be written from the bias perspective of one person?
In her deceptively challenging puppet-like role, Kazan is effervescent, spirited and intuitive; whilst the anxiously Woody Allen-esque Dano exudes the essence of an introspective neurotic writer, both conveying the required emotions artfully. Cameos from Steve Coogan, Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas are fun but somewhat distracting for the level of film, which is in direct contrast with Messina's natural archetypical male.
Issues with this production lay with its miscarriage of timing, its manufactured gravitas, and heavy handed chunkiness in parts. A lighter tact and delicacy would have made this seem more original and quelled the emotive desire we were left craving.
The Verdict: This kind of exploration into the male fantasy has been done umpteen times and always raises a number of moral questions, but interestingly enough, for what seems like the first time, the capacity to mould and regulate the fashioned female seems to have genuine consequences to which the male counterpart is affected.
Published: The Queanbeyan Age
Date of Publication: 27/09/2012
Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan's touching and unconventional chemistry makes this movie standout from the crowd, which is why it's an absolute crime that this movie is so underrated. This pairing will forever be one of my favorite on-screen couples, imaginary or not.
But easily the best part of this film is the script. From the creative premise to the pitch-perfect dialogue, this is a perfect storm of indie cinema gold.
A masterpiece. Touching, beautiful, hilarious, and oddly haunting. This is a near perfect movie. Criminally underrated.