IMDb.com User Rating: 7.3/10
RottenTomatoes.com: 79% positive
PBJ Rating: 10/10 ♥’s
The creators of indie darling Little Miss Sunshine deliver another charm and a half in Ruby Sparks, the story of a stumped writer who crafts romance practically from thin air. Well not thin air so much as from his typewriter, which doesn’t make it any less crazy.
In the film, famous author Calvin Weir-Fields [played by Little Miss Sunshine‘s Paul Dano] suffers from writer’s block and a case of ‘Sophomore Slump’ while trying to craft a strong follow up to his hit debut novel. Disconnected from his family and the celebrity lifestyle he loathes, Calvin resorts to the seemingly benign advice of his therapist. As a result, Calvin’s dreams of a ginger-haired beauty become the muse of his latest efforts to overcome this slump. Before he knows it, Calvin is sharing air with his dream come to life: Ruby Sparks has walked off the page and in through his front door. Girl meets boy without boy having met girl, and boom – shit gets weird.
And not only can Calvin write Ruby’s history down to her parent’s demise, but he can write her life as she lives it.
Not so strangely Calvin embraces his creation and abandons his writing; he has, after all, made the perfect girl. He shares his life with Ruby, introducing her to family and carrying on as if she didn’t appear from a wrinkle in time and space. But as their relationship deepens, Calvin fails to overcome his disconnect to the point that Ruby is all he has. Ruby becomes more distant, thus Calvin delves back into his latest and greatest ‘work’: he begins writing Ruby Sparks again. Unfortunately for Calvin, getting what he wishes does not turn out so kosher.
What I liked:
Well, the film itself! The story echoes a little Stranger Than Fiction with the quirk and circumstance of 500 Days of Summer, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and of course Little Miss Sunshine. While the first half of the film was rather predictable, the rest was like uncomfortably climbing out of a cuddle orgy [apparently a real thing, by the way]. The casting was slightly conventional, but the characters were all incredibly charming [as is the film itself]. Annette Benning and Antonio Banderas made an unexpected but very welcomed appearance as Calvin’s neo-hippie mother and stepfather.
The last thing I saw Paul Dano in was Sunshine, and while I admittedly had my doubts he played the disconnect very well. Again. But whatever, it’s his dig. And of course L.A. native Zoe Kazan performed the delectable Ruby to the best expectations. Ruby Sparks is one of those films, like I said about Beasts of the Southern Wild, that is so incredibly rare and special and only comes along every few years. One scene in particular, where Calvin is practically torturing Ruby by writing her actions right there in his studio, was powerful enough that I didn’t know what emotion was running through me. It was a strong feeling though. That kind of dubiousness permeated the rest of the film as it was a dark comedy, yet more full of life than other dark coms I’ve seen. Overall, I loved Ruby Sparks from start to finish.
What I didn’t like:
The gut wrench I felt at times, but of course that was the whole point. No-strings love and emotional progress were prevalent themes, as was the ‘careful what you wish for’ cliche that was none-the-less relevant to the affect of Ruby Sparks. So what I ‘didn’t like’ also happens to be the best thing about the film: it is powerful. Come to think of it, Ruby is the first film I’ve awarded 10/10 ♥’s. What does that tell you! And for the record, it makes for a great date movie. Thank you to REMIX Magazine for the double pass!
Ruby Sparks is playing at Event Cinemas on Queen St, find showtimes here.