Directed by husband and wife team Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, Ruby Sparks is a 2012 comedy-drama, based around a struggling writer named Calvin (Paul Dano), suffering writer’s block in attempting to write the follow-up to his big success. His therapist (Elliot Gould) suggests he writes something regardless of it’s quality. So, he invents a girl, his dream girl, in fact. However, after creating this and having a breakthrough, the character he created, named Ruby (Zoe Kazan), inexplicably comes to life. He finds that whatever he writes about her becomes instantly true. He vows not to abuse this power, but soon he discovers that having ultimate power over a person’s personality may not be all it’s cracked up to be, as he soon starts to fall in love with his technically fictional girlfriend.
Being given a limited release in the US back in July, Ruby Sparks has caught that attention of several critics, with it being given a very positive consensus. This has been reinforced by the fact that Dayton and Faris’ previous film, Little Miss Sunshine was a big hit, commercially and critically. If the success of Little Miss Sunshine is not replicated by this film, it will be a great shame, as Ruby Sparks is a very good film that does deserve a watch from anyone who likes a good love story.
The acting is possibly Ruby Sparks‘ biggest strength. Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan (also the writer) have wonderful chemistry, with Kazan giving a wide-eyed, almost naÃ¯ve portrayal of the character, while also having her going on a journey as she becomes more developed and learns more about the world. Dano portrays Calvin as a broken man, desperate for something to cling on to to give some certainty in his life. The supporting cast are all fantastic, including Elliot Gould (who appears to have been cured of his 90s career slump), Steve Coogan, and Antonio Banderas, who all give smashing performances.
The writing by lead actress Zoe Kazan is spot-on, with some wonderfully comic scenes, which is good to see, as recent romantic comedies seem to have left the whole ‘comedy’ aspect out. The dialogue seems real, while still feeling quirky in it’s own way. The shots and editing very much have their own style, with the quick-cuts being almost Edgar Wright-esque. As Calvin gets more desperate, as the film goes into darker places, exposing everyone’s flaws, the colour palette becomes darker, relying more on grey than the first and second acts rather colourful look. The ending is possibly one of the most heart-warming yet slightly bittersweet endings in recent memory, and the last line is one of the best ever-written, close to even The Social Network, or Some Like It Hot.
Ruby Sparks is, unsurprisingly, a wonderful film. It’s brilliantly acted, excellently written, and beautifully crafted. It makes full use of it’s intriguing premise, and even though similar things have been done before (especially in a particularly memorable episode of The Twilight Zone), it feels fresh and original. Why it got a limited release in the US I have no idea, as it really has the makings of a sleeper hit, which it will be in the UK for sure. It really does deserve the praise it’s getting, and it also deserves two hours of your time. You won’t regret it.