Movie review: Ruby Sparks (M)

I’M sure everyone, at one time or another, has wished their friend, partner or spouse acted a certain way at times.

Ruby Sparks proves that even if you can control and create the perfect partner, free will will constantly be a problem.

This quirky romance film was written by Zoe Kazan, who also stars as the title character.

Kazan has had minor roles in It’s Complicated and Revolutionary Road but this is her first time at writing a feature film.

It also stars Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine, Knight and Day) as  Calvin, a writer with a mental block after his first novel became a major success when he was 19.

In an act of desperation to write something, he writes about Ruby Sparks, a girl from his dreams who turns out to be his perfect match.

When Ruby magically goes from a figment of imagination to real person, Calvin not only has to deal with the newcomer but also realises he can control and mould her through what he writes about her.

Ruby Sparks takes the magic of other films based around the magic of writing.

Stranger Than Fiction (Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson) saw a writer predetermine an average man’s fate through the plot of her novel.

Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris also took on the magic of literature, with Owen Wilson’s character meeting up with famous authors and artists in Paris each night at midnight.

Each film is wonderful to watch, never mind the unexplained magic, plot holes or conspicuous endings.

Paul Dano does an excellent job as the lead in the film.

Dano is probably most remembered as the silent teenage son determined to become a test pilot.

He also played identical twin brothers in There Will Be Blood.

This is the first time Dano has taken the lead in a feature film and he is excellent as the creative, awkward, worrisome and serious writer.

Ruby Sparks also has a strong support cast lead by Chris Messina and including Steve Coogan, Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas.

Coogan is a his arrogant English best while Bening and Banderas are entertaining as Calvin’s alternative lifestyle parents.

While Ruby Sparks as a whole isn’t a truly outstanding film – it takes a little too long to get clever and curious – it is certainly worth the ticket price.

Particularly for the climactic scene that takes the film to a slightly darker place and makes the ideas, morals and themes of the plot all the more interesting.

Ruby Sparks is full of quirkiness, romance, optimism and magic. A bright light in the middle of a dull few months for the box office.

The Verdict: 3 ½ stars.

- Ruby Sparks (M) is now showing at Bendigo Cinemas. See page 3 of the Bendigo Advertiser for session details. 

CHARACTER: Writer Calvin (Paul Dano) and his girlfriend Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan) have a complicated relationship.

CHARACTER: Writer Calvin (Paul Dano) and his girlfriend Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan) have a complicated relationship.


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