Rating: 4 stars out of 5
‘Ruby Sparks’ is a brand new romantic comedy directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, the husband and wife team behind indie darling ‘Little Miss Sunshine’.
This equally quirky offering is about a prodigal novelist, Calvin Weir-Fields whose character comes to life and eventually falls in love with him. Calvin is suffering from writer's block trying to write a follow up to his majorly successful first novel. He is given an assignment by his therapist to write a page about his dog Scotty, who he is somewhat embarrassed by.
This eventually serves as the spark that gets Calvin writing again as he dreams about a young woman that draws a picture of him and Scotty that very night. He names her Ruby Sparks and starts writing feverishly about her and soon realizes that he is falling in love with her.
His writer’s block finally goes away when stops doubting his work and starts writing about a character he loves, but is it okay to fall in love with a character you write?
It gets even more troubling when he wakes up one day and Ruby's in his house, having apparently materialized herself from thin air.
‘Ruby Sparks’ is an intelligently written and nicely acted little film. Paul Dano plays Calvin, a weird multi-dimensional character with an understated calmness. Calvin isn't just struggling with writer's block, he lacks a social life and is awkward around people including his own family.
When he first dreams of Ruby, he starts writing with an enthusiasm that is impossible to not feel happy for him. When Ruby finally appears in front of him, it shakes up his life.
Zoe Kazan is Ruby Sparks
This leads to quite a few comedic scenes involving Calvin's brother, Harry, who hilariously goes from being convinced that Calvin has lost his mind to being envious of Calvin's ability to create someone out of thin air. Zoe Kazan (who also wrote the script) is a delight as she imbues Ruby with a fresh air of exuberance that lights up the screen whenever she appears, literally becoming the one “sparks” up Calvin's life.
After all, she is the perfect embodiment of Calvin's dreams. Hence, she does things like strutting about while wearing bright leggings, watching zombie movie marathons and taking her panties off while dancing. She's everything Calvin wants to be but cannot be... and that's exactly why she's attractive to him.
Though the concept of characters meeting their creators isn't exactly new by now, it's where the film goes with it that makes it stand out from the rest. ‘Ruby Sparks’ starts off as a magical romance story but quickly cuts through the fluff of that to get to the darker, unsettling part of dealing with relationships and the set of problems that come along with them.
Through Calvin's apparent lack of know-how in the relationship problem solving department, the film manages to become an intelligent commentary on a wide variety of subjects like idealism, the creative process, male ego and controlling behaviour in relationships.
‘Ruby Sparks’ isn't without its flaws, for example; it takes a while for the movie to really get going and is oddly paced but it does score in many other departments. It's consistently funny -- many scenes will have you bursting into laughter simply because of the pure absurdity of the situations. And many other scenes will leave you with questions of your own – such as whether it's okay to be romancing and sleeping with a character you wrote.
Ultimately, ‘Ruby Sparks’ is great because it doesn't pretend to be what it isn't. It's basically a beautifully written and acted film that thrives on the imagination of a simple “what if”.
A thoughtful film that explores deep questions, ‘Ruby Sparks’ rises above the quirky facade that it puts up to become one of the more insightful films of the year.
Dexian or just Dex if you have an inability to pronounce Chinese names, is a fervent film lover who's known to read up on the most inane pieces of cinema trivia just so he has something to talk about when he's drunk. When he's not watching something, he can be found reading other useless Wikipedia articles on things like Nebulaphobia.