Ruby Sparks is a narcissistic narrative from the fingertips of a lonely writer, blossoming into a Pinocchio-like tale that binds fiction, fable and phenomenon.
How hard is it to find the girl of your dreams? If you found her, would she really live up to your expectations?
As a writer, journalist, blogger, and someone who knows the struggles associated with putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, this movie hits home. Not in the sense where I've created imaginary friends, or girls to associate with, but the difficulty, and anguish that comes with writing. It's often said that writers hate to write, but eventually say they are happy that they have written, no film will hold that truth more than Ruby Sparks.
Paul Dano stars as Calvin, a young writing prodigy who experienced fame around the age of 19 after writing a New York Times Best Selling Novel. Since then he has traveled with expectations of another great literary work. Like every writer on the face of this planet (myself included as I write this) his writers block triumphs over all, and he even goes to therapy about it.
One night, while asleep, he dreams of his "dream" girl, instantly he awakes and springs to his typewriter, because well
it's 2012 and why would he have a laptop. Calvin writes about his dream girl, an entire story, and then POOF, like magic, she appears in his house like she was there the whole time.
I love the idea. I adore the premise of this film; simply because it's such a bizarre fantasy, one that every guy would kill for, and it was translated onto film in such an endearing and powerful way.
The story unfolds in three parts, you get the set up of who Calvin is, you see his struggle with writing something new, and then we meet Ruby, then the realities of the situation begin to take shape. Ruby Sparks is a romantic fantasy that exudes passion, charm, laugher, and pain. It balances the realities of life with the mythical substance created inside of Calvin's forthcoming pages.
Zoe Kazan plays Ruby, the red-haired, spunky counterpart of Calvin's imagination. Appearing out of thin air, and into Calvin's life; from the discovery of her actual existence to basking in the fermenting love connection, Calvin and Ruby are two peas in a pod. It's pure bliss, like two perfect people found each other, it's nothing short of a hocus pocus spell in the eyes of Calvin.
Kazan deserves bonus kudos for also writing the film, along with starring in it.
Now as Calvin comes to terms with the fact that he has created his dream girl, he finds out he can also make her do whatever he wants, as long as he types it into the story. Sure, far fetched, his brother, Harry, played by Chris Messina doesn't believe this farce of a story either, so proof must be provided. Calvin can make her speak fluent French, be an amazing cook, snap while she talks, extremely happy and bouncy, or even really sad.
He is a puppeteer.
So now the question presents itself, if you had this ability, how far would you go? You control another human being, they are your robot, you are their master, that's what this film and Calvin is/are at it's core. And how interesting is that, as writers we can manipulate characters and stories any way we want with the help of the keys, Calvin is the sculptor of Ruby not only on paper, but in real life.
The film unfolds as Calvin tells his brother, "I'll never write about her again" meaning he wasn't going to finish the story that created Ruby, so that she, nor the relationship would be ruined. The young author soon realizes that once you let go of the creative control of another person, they begin to develop personalities and traits of their own, also known as character, Ruby, being fresh in Calvin's life starts gaining independence and self awareness.
This is where the struggle, and emotional anguish of the film begins. Here is what bridges the gap of Ruby Sparks from imaginary tale, pure doses of reality.
Paul Dano continues to grow, and shine as an actor, his latest work in Being Flynn, and here in Ruby Sparks, have shown the amount of versatility, and depth he can covey in roles. The lanky frame, cardigan wearing, mop hair style makes him the quintessential writer-type, while real life girl friend Zoe Kazan and her bright hair and blue eyes play Ruby to be the girl men would certainly desire.
The chemistry is felt throughout the film, from the happy scenes, to the climax, gut wrenching fight scenes, you must wonder what kind of a toll this took on the actual relationship during production? I have a slight beef with the ending as it was a tad predictable, not from the start of the film, but as the film is coming to a close you can sort of tell how it will end, in a romantic and sweet way.
Supporting roles from Annette Bening as Calvin's hippy mother, Antonio Banderes as her carpenter boyfriend, Steve Coogan, and therapist Elliot Gould, all add great depth and feel to the film.
Great (young) romantic films are impossible to come by, especially ones that also feel authentic. I can only think of two in the last handful of years, 500 Days of Summer, and Like Crazy. I'm confident to proclaim Ruby Sparks is being thrown on that mantel (of mine), and young folks from 18-30 should really love this film.
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