Plot – A novelist struggling with writer’s block finds romance in a most unusual way: by creating a female character he thinks will love him, then willing her into existence – Ruby Sparks.
Director – Valerie Faris & Jonathan Dayton
Starring – Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Annette Bening
Genre – Romance | Comedy | Drama
Released – 2012
If you liked: Eternal Sunlight for the Spotless Mind, The Way Way Back, Her
As far as romantic comedies go, Ruby Sparks is fine. It’s quirky and when compared to most rom-com boasts wonderfully nuanced dramatic undertones. Sadly, however, this means that the comedic side of the movie is lacking and although the principal characters are eloquently written and well-acted, the supporting characters are nothing more than stereotypes that annoy more than they entertain.
Tasked with most of the movie’s more absurd propositions, Zoe Kazan is excellent as the “manic pixie dream girl” that Paul Dano’s character dreams up. Dano is equally entertaining as a dorky writer Calvin Weir-Fields, that once he realises he can make all his romantic fantasies come true with a few lines on a typewriter a darker side comes to the surface and as the story is mostly told from his perspective, the film needed a strong lead to keep it on track, though I can’t help but feel that the movie would have been better if they focused on Ruby instead. Showing her personality change repeatedly over the course of the film only for the manipulations to come to light later on in the story, would have made for a powerful reveal.
It’s this darker side that I found the most enthralling and would have liked the makers to have explored in greater detail, although I understand that this would have moved the film away from the romantic comedy sphere and closer to an episode of Black Mirror playing more with the moral ambiguity of Calvin and how even good people can exhibit exploring abusive, controlling behaviour if given the power to manipulate those around them.
Overall, Ruby Sparks is a fun/easy film to watch but leaves you disappointed with all the missed opportunities that the movie could have explored instead of staying faithful to the rom-com genre.