Saturday, August 4

Ruby Sparks Review

Ruby Sparks
Dir: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Starring: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan,
Annette Bening, and Antonio Banderas

If you had the ability to create your perfect match would the person you produce feel that you were their perfect match? The concept seems like a dream come true however in Ruby Sparks it teeters with prospects that turn a fantasy into a proverbial nightmare. The heart of the ingenious, well written romantic comedy comes from writer/actor Zoe Kazan who plays the title character Ruby Sparks with impeccable charm assisted by a familiar supporting cast of established actors.

Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) was a teenager when he wrote one of the most cherished novels on his time, however ten years of trying to live up to expectations could prove especially difficult. Calvin is stuck with a blank page, a terrible fate for a writer; and living on the popularity of his past effort is beginning to wear thin on Calvin’s mental psyche which has him visiting a psychologist (Elliot Gould) for assistance. Calvin is looking for inspiration that comes in the form of the woman of his dreams, literally. As Calvin begins to write about her, his passion turns into obsession and he becomes infatuated with his muse Ruby (Zoe Kazan).

Ruby embodies everything that Calvin finds admirable; she is charming, funny, intellectual, and, most importantly, challenging for Calvin. He’s in love with her. However, Ruby is also independent and freethinking and grows beyond Calvin’s immediate needs and control.

Writer/actor Zoe Kazan has crafted a smart and untypical romantic film. The characters are crafted with fearless reactions that lead the film into fascinating places regardless of how dark or uncomfortable they may be. This is a story lead by the growth of the characters and how they influence each other along the way. Ruby especially is a symbol of change and manipulation but it also reverses onto Calvin in regards to his compulsion for control and unknowing ego.

Paul Dano is a great actor and it’s nice to seem him in the lead position; he does a great job of walking the line between unhinged and balanced. Zoe Kazan has the difficult task of portraying a wide range of emotions as at times she jumps drastically from one to another in the same scene. It’s difficult to effectively portray this and it shows at times, but she is still wholly capable of making it work. The supporting cast is also well rounded and good; Chris Messina offers humor as Calvin’s brother Harry, while Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas make a cameo as Calvin’s dysfunctional family, though their role is funny it seems unnecessary in the scheme of the plot.

The film offers some insightful ideas that are, for the most part, successfully executed. Zoe Kazan is a rising star that is bound for bigger journeys; her writing skills are especially great and she proves capable of representing a multitude of ranges. How difficult would it be to make the partner of your dreams? That’s a question that beckons whether you are looking for someone else, or in the case of Calvin, looking for yourself. Ruby Sparks is an example of ambitious independent filmmaking.

Monte’s Rating
4.25 out of 5.00

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