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Ruby Sparks

October 26, 2012
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You may have noticed that I like writing. I also like media about writing – It’s kind of meta (And yet I never saw Stranger Than Fiction). My girlfriend likes quirky rom-coms. I can’t remember who suggested this film first.

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Ruby Sparks is comedy-drama about a neurotic young writer who writes his perfect woman into existence…somehow. Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan) begins as a writing assignment for Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano), a young novelist, set by his therapist. However, as he writes more of the girl of his dreams (literally), he realises he is falling in love with her. A little odd maybe but harmless enough…until he wakes up one morning and she is there, in his kitchen, making breakfast.

A hilarious sequence ensues where Calvin can’t decide whether he’s gone mad or not, whil trying not to alarm the possibly-unreal Ruby. When he is convinced that she has, somehow, come to life, they enjoy a very golden relationship, during which Calvin and his brother discover that Ruby is still under the influence of what Calvin writes about her. While his brother convinces him to write about big tits or daily blowjobs, Calvin honorably promises that he won’t change Ruby for anything.

However, as time progresses, cracks appear in the relationship (More due to Calvin’s juvenile attitude to relationships than the way Ruby was written). Feeling stifled, Ruby tries to put some space between her and Calvin. Spurned, vindictive and possessive, Calvin reacts by reaching for Ruby’s manuscript and writing drastic changes to Ruby’s personality. But, as he discovers, you just can’t write the perfect woman.

This film lives on the performance of its two main actors, Dano and Kazan. I can’t help but feel the whiff of nepotism as Kazan wrote the script with herself and Dano, her boyfriend, in mind. Or, in Hollywood, does that make it “indie”? I’m willing to overlook it regardless, as they are both excellent and make the film what it is. As Calvin, Dano presents an awkward and neurotic but immediately likeable outsider. A comparison to J.D. Salinger is made in the film but he most keenly reminds me of a young Woody Allen. However, in the latter half of the film, he shifts gear naturally (uncomfortably so for the audience) to a more possessive, jealous palette, attempting to regain his idealised relationship. Starring opposite, Kazan is effortlessly charming, and portrays Calvin’s drastic revisions capably, demonstrating a range of 2-dimensional emotion. Despite playing a character written to life, she comes across with a genuine endearing-ness, akin to Zoe Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer.

Zoe Kazan also deserves double props as the writer of a superbly written script.

The supporting cast does their job, of supporting, well enough. They include some rather big names such as Antonio Banderas and Elliott Gould. Steve Coogan puts in an appearance as a less-than-charming novelist friend of Calvin’s and while Coogan plays him with an appropriate level of slime, I can never shake the feeling that instead of playing a character, Coogan is playing a cariacture. Hm.

This film is exquisite. Sharply written, with strong lead performances, with a lesson on idealising women and relationships, it packs a bit more of an emotional punch than most films these days. Also, the main character is a writer who writes a girl to life – how cool is that?!

 

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