Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan
July 25, 2012 (NY/LA)
Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Fox Searchlight Pictures
1 hour 46 minutes
Love is something very special in one's life, and sometimes that love can be so powerful that it brings things to life. That is the case for the main character in the new indie dramady 'Ruby Sparks.' This film is the follow-up for directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris to their breakout hit 'Little Miss Sunshine.' These two directors team up with their 'Sunshine' star Paul Dano to bring this original story about the power of love to the big screen. I love how the film takes such a creative premise and makes it feel like the audience is watching the relationship of two people who are madly in love with each other. 'Ruby Sparks' is a charming, original, hilarious, and surprisingly dark film (in the third act) that hopefully will stand out in the indie market as it expands on in the next few weeks.
Calvin is a guy who is having a very tough time writing his second novel. He has had writers block for over a decade after his first book, which he only wrote at 19, became a national bestseller. He's been seeing a therapist to talk about his struggles with writing, as well as his past relationships with other women. Through a spontaneous "epiphany" that he has, Calvin is given the inspiration to write more than he has previously, and his writing is about Ruby. Ruby is so vivid and so real to Calvin that he starts falling in love with her, despite only being a piece of fiction. Through unexplained reasons, Calvin finds Ruby, in the flesh, one morning making breakfast for him and acting as if they've been a couple for a very long time. Calvin goes along with it, and despite being in love with everything about Ruby, he does consider fixing some things he finds “wrong” with Ruby, which may not be the best thing for the girl he’s in love with.
It was unknown to me prior to seeing the film that Zoe Kazan, the adorable and charming lady who plays the title character of the film, actually wrote the movie on her own. The dialogue is not only well written, but it's also very funny at times. The story, while a romantic comedy at its core, went into places I didn't expect it to go, and that to me was great. I could tell that this movie came from her heart and from the love of her boyfriend, co-star Paul Dano, because the chemistry between the characters in the film felt so realistic, despite Ruby not being a real human being at all. Having never seen her act before, Kazan had such a pure presence in the film, and I absolutely fell high over heels for Ruby.
Paul Dano is another actor who I've never really seen prior to have seen the film. I had only had my first real experience with him when I watched 'Little Miss Sunshine' for the first time a few hours prior to the screening. Dano gives a fantastic performance, going from a man just looking for love, to a man who becomes a mad scientist of sorts. Dano and Kazan are irresistible together, but even the scenes when it's just them acting are nothing short of great. The rest of the supporting cast is also great, which includes Antonio Banderas and Annette Benning. However, as funny as the supporting cast is here, they don't match the charm and realism of Dano and Kazan in this movie.
One of the first things that came to my mind after I walked out of 'Ruby Sparks' was the Maroon 5 song 'Payphone.' In the chorus, the lyrics are "If "Happy Ever After" did exist, I would still be holding you like this. All those fairy tales are full of it, one more stupid love song I'll be sick." The film's main character, Calvin, is a real romantic when he chooses to be. That could explain why he makes Ruby, the fictional girl who comes to life miraculously, essentially the perfect woman for himself. It could be said that the comparison between a payphone and a typewriter in today's society is that they aren't really seen much anywhere anymore. But then again, that could be the reason why they can be so useful to get women. Sure, the song is about getting back a girl and the movie is about being with a girl, but the thing that connects them, aside from the fact that the objects aren't used a lot anymore, is that they're both about being in love. That's what I love the most about 'Ruby Sparks.'
Everyone wants to find the essential perfect woman to spend the rest of their life with. The thing about finding a perfect woman is that you can live with her imperfections, rather than have the urge to change them. 'Ruby Sparks features top notch acting, a great script, and a story that becomes darker and more realistic than the trailers suggest. I am hopeful that this will become the indie surprise of the year and connect with many audiences out there. While this isn't exactly an Oscar film, it is a feel good romantic dramady that has the ability to strike chords with the romantics out there. If anyone has ever been in love or is looking for love in any shape or form, chances are they will fall for Ruby's charm, humor, and realism, just like I did.