Ruby Sparks - A Control Freak's Love

                          Who among us at one time or another wanted to have a dreamy ideal into existence? "Ruby Sparks", the new, smart love story takes that idea and expands it into a sophisticated and beguiling romantic fable. Despite being a romantic comedy, it isn't going to appeal to the audiences of conventional, formulaic romantic movies. Apart from the movie's philosophical issues, it's path is totally uncompromising. Ruby Sparks, even descends into darkness, a place where few romantic comedies dare to tread.

                           For writers, the hardest thing other than writing is not able to write. They always have the love-hate relationship with the craft. In Ruby Sparks, the central character is a writer, who is suffering from a severe case of writer’s block. A writer is the apt choice for protagonist in this romcom, since male fantasies have, for centuries, complicated women's real lives through imposed and self-imposed expectations. 

     Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano), as a novelist, has achieved fame and fortune at the early age of 19. The story takes place ten years later, where Calvin lives alone in a large house and keeps to himself most of the time.But Calvin couldn't write, he sits in his room, staring at a blank piece of paper, which he inserts daily into his typewriter (yes -- no computer for Calvin), waiting for that lightning in his mind. He also getting over a very bad break-up. Calvin most often stays in hibernate mode, with his dog and his only relationships with real persons are his brother (Chris Messina) and his therapist (Elliot Gould).

                 Calvin starts to dream about a young girl and his therapist encourages him to write about her. He takes the advice and names the girl Ruby (Zoe Kazan) and Calvin gives her certain characteristics. One fine morning, which is not a dream, Calvin wakes up to find Ruby in his apartment. At first he believes it as a dream, later fears that he is hallucinating and is one the verge of nervous breakdown when he realizes other people can see her too. When his brother confirms that she is a very real person, Calvin enjoys his good fortune. He can control her through her writing and can change her behaviors too. But of course, it is live and so everything comes to a mess, when Calvin returns to his old egocentric behavior.

                For struggling actress' in Hollywood, it is a common thing to write a screenplay, even though the results are rarely successful. But it's amazing to see a young actress like Zoe Kazan, write a startlingly assured first feature script. Kazan packs her punches, excellently loading the premise’s darker possibilities into a single last scene. Her script is inspired by the myth of Pygmalion and Galatea and the style of French New Wave, and she pulls off a deft balancing act. As Ruby, Kazan is likeable. She deftly conveys her character's emotional shifts, which gradually grow towards worrisome when Calvin increasingly becomes a puppet master. 

                As Calvin, Paul Dano, who might not seem the ideal choice for a leading man in romantic comedy, give us a fantastic low-key performance. He plays his neurotic character like the young Woody Allen and like the protagonist in a Wes Anderson movie. Dano and Kazan, like a couple in real life, play their parts with finesse, charm and energy. The supporting cast is full of well-known faces - Antonio Banderas, Elliot Gould, Annette Benning - none of whom overacts or tries to upstage the leads. The husband and wife team of directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, have last directed "Little Miss Sunshine", six years ago. They have expertly handled the direction part and has added deft touches to the ever-changing tones in the script. 

                 However, there are some tonal problems in the movie. As the typical high-testosterone brother of Calvin, Chris Messina, seems to have been the character stepped in from another movie and Steve Coogan as a novelist can’t decide whether he’s mentoring Calvin or competing with him. Few flaws aside, Ruby Sparks should be highly appreciated for not just staying as a romantic comedy.  The movie gets darker step by step, as Calvin comes to appreciate just how complete is his control over the character he’s created. This part of the story has a kind of ferocity that’s both incongruous and memorable and throws the rest of the movie out of whack.

               Creation is a difficult process for any great artists. "Ruby Sparks" graphs that positive progression making it so much more satisfying than the cut-rate romantic tale that it could have been. It has the distinction of being a pleasant interruption to the typical cacophony of a mindless block-buster. 


Ruby Sparks - IMDb

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