Ruby Sparks

The screening for Ruby Sparks occurred when I was on vacation in Rhode Island (pre-BlogHer) and so I unfortunately missed it. I've loved Paul Dano since Little Miss Sunshine, however, and I still really wanted to see the film, so I went to my local movie theater this weekend to catch it while it's still on the big screen. I was not disappointed, and it's one of the better comedies I've seen lately, though it has some dark undercurrents as well.

Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano, Being Flynn) is almost 30, and he's a high school dropout that published his first novel at 19, which became a megahit and made him insanely popular (and rich, too, if his current house is indicative of his success). Since then, he's published a book of short stories, but not much else. His shrink, Dr. Rosenthal (Elliot Gould, Contagion) encourages him to write about a girl he's been dreaming about, even if it's only a page long. Calvin's dreams about this girl become more and more frequent, and he starts writing again; before long, he has a novel about her, who he's named Ruby. It is to his shock and amazement, then, that one day he wakes up and finds Ruby (Zoe Kazan, Meek's Cutoff) in the flesh, in his house, cooking him breakfast.

Calvin thinks he's going insane, and he calls his brother, Harry (Chris Messina, TV's Damages), to let him know about Ruby. Later, however, Calvin goes out to do some errands, and Ruby asks to come along; Calvin finds that others can see Ruby as well, and he - literally - scoops her up and runs home with her, as he's extremely excited that he isn't just imagining her. Ruby soon meets the rest of Calvin's family (including Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas, playing his parents), and Calvin realizes that he can change anything about her - her personality, her talents, her moods - by going back to his typewriter and writing it. Calvin must decide whether he wants to live with Ruby "as is" and not tamper with her, or if he wants to discard his morals and change her to be exactly to his liking.

Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan have incredible chemistry together in this film, which isn't surprising because they've been dating for three or more years. Kazan also wrote the screenplay for Ruby Sparks, and it's very comedic, with humorous moments throughout, except for a few more intense scenes near the end of it. Calvin eventually realizes that the reason he's only had one serious girlfriend in the past ten years is because he is a bit of a control freak, and there's a scene near the end of the film between him and Ruby that's actually very bittersweet, as he shows Ruby exactly what kind of powers he has over her.

Yes, see this film. It's an indie film by Fox Searchlight, but I was able to see it at my local multiplex, so it seems to be expanding into more theaters. The film kept my attention throughout its 1 hour and 44 minute runtime, and although I was worried it would pull a "then he woke up and it was all a dream" type ending, the movie manages to wrap itself up nicely without resorting to this; the ending, in fact, reminded me of (500) Days of Summer. Ruby Sparks also has parallels to 2006's Stranger than Fiction, but it tells its own unique story that is only faintly similar to its predecessor.

Ruby Sparks is currently playing in theaters, and is rated R with a runtime of 104 minutes. 4.5 stars out of 5.

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