Dispatched from his basement room on an errand for his widowed mother, slacker Jeff might discover his destiny (finally) when he spends the day with his unhappily married brother as he tracks his possibly adulterous wife.
Captures a generational moment - young people on the cusp of truly growing up, tiring of their reflexive cynicism, each in their own ways struggling to connect and define what it means to love and be loved.
After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.
David O. Russell
Robert De Niro
Calvin is a genius novelist who begins to type a new novel on his manual typewriter about Ruby, his dream girl. He can't believe his eyes, because the next day, Ruby becomes a real person, and they begin to have a beautiful relationship together. If the relationship isn't perfect, all Calvin has to do is simply type the words on the page and Ruby's actions change to what he needs. Written by
Douglas Young (the-movie-guy)
Zoe Kazan lives with her co-star Paul Dano See more »
In their way to Big Sur, when they stop a while near the sea and leave the car, Ruby is carrying a purse. Immediately later, when they are playing "who kills the other first" you can see no purse at all. See more »
After six long years, partners Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris have finally released the follow-up to their magnificent debut feature Little Miss Sunshine, and while Ruby Sparks doesn't quite match the level of its predecessor, it surely marks the duo as a directorial team that can fulfill their promise. Written by co-star Zoe Kazan, Sparks tells the story of young novelist Calvin Weir-Fields (Kazan's real life partner and Sunshine veteran Paul Dano), who after becoming an instant success with his first novel at the age of 19 has been on an extended bout of writer's block while trying to follow up his great achievement. Seems like Dayton and Faris could relate to the character in some ways, as the two were constantly trying to get a second project off the ground and seeing their hopes fall apart before they were able to get Sparks going.
Calvin has shut himself off from most of society, and after having several dreams of a mysterious girl he's never met, his therapist (a well-placed Elliott Gould) gives him an assignment to write a page about her. The assignment finally gives Calvin the inspiration that he needs and he quickly goes to work on his new novel, all about the Ruby Sparks of his dreams. However, the plot really kicks in when he wakes up one morning to find that Ruby has come off the page and is now in his kitchen, wearing one of his shirts and eating some cereal as if she's been there all along. Ruby Sparks takes a high concept and mostly makes it work, due to Kazan's script which forces the viewer to accept the situation without spending too much time on the burden of realistic explanation.
Calvin's reaction to his new houseguest, who claims to be his longtime girlfriend, is as natural as any (he thinks he's lost his mind), but slowly he comes to accept her placement in his life and the film takes on an interesting exploration of how someone with the power to write the girl of his dreams into existence can abuse that rare gift. There are some complaints I had with the logic of the situation, not the basic premise but rather the execution of some of the later scenes, but in something as fantastical as this it seems kind of silly to analyze certain aspects of that premise after accepting the basic idea of it all. What makes Sparks succeed is in how Kazan strips apart the Manic Pixie Dream Girl type, taking the ideal of the "perfect woman" and showing Calvin that flaws are what make us human. Ruby starts off not as a real person, but as she grows into her own and starts to drift away, he tries to alter her and it only makes the situation even worse.
There's a lot of solid support from the ensemble cast, particularly Chris Messina as Calvin's brother, who takes the role of the stereotypical man and adds poignancy, charm and a lot of humor whenever he comes around, but the real focus is on Dano and Kazan. Often times it doesn't work when a real-life pair brings their romance to the screen, but these two seem to be so perfectly in tune with one another that they are able to effectively capture all angles of this peculiar romance between Calvin and Ruby. A fascinating study not only into the mind of a writer, but the mind of any man, Ruby Sparks takes a deep look into our perception of what we want in our mates and how that very concept is unrealistic.
A great film in its own right, it also does three other things that bring promise to the future of those involved with it. For one, after a few years of suffering through one painful trite "quirky" dramedy after another, it's finally given Dano another plum role that demonstrates his true value as an upcoming young actor. Secondly, it proves that Little Miss Sunshine was no fluke for the directing pair of Dayton and Faris, and now let's hope that their next feature doesn't take another six years to come to us. Finally, it introduces a superb new writing talent in the form of Zoe Kazan, someone who I'll be greatly looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next on that front.
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