Ruby Sparks (2012) is a romantic comedy with a touch of fantasy and plenty of originality. Calvin (Paul Dano) is a successful young novelist who has hit the dreaded writer's block. He begins to have dreams about a girl he names Ruby Sparks. The dream, coupled with a writing task his therapist assigns him, inspires him to begin writing again.
He has a close relationship with his older brother Harry (Chris Messina), with whom he shares his early writing drafts. Calvin is quite awkward and inexperienced around girls, having one failed relationship behind him. He is rather introverted despite his well-known status as an author. This all combines to make him a plausible and endearing character. Harry acts as a confidant and mentor on the topic of real (opposed to fictional) women and is more extroverted.
When items belonging to a girl start to mysteriously appear in Calvin’s home, things begin to take on a comical fantasy twist. Ruby (Zoe Kazan) becomes more than just words on paper. I can’t say too much without spoiling it, but the film has some very funny scenes and as the plot thickens it becomes quite dark in places. It explores the intricacies of relationships and the reality of living together. The ethics of manipulation and the meaning of unconditional love develop as the film moves along.
I enjoyed the way the rom-com theme has been subverted and found it very refreshing. Some films have me guessing the outcome within the first five minutes, but this wasn’t the case in Ruby Sparks, and even if I had I still would’ve wanted to watch it.
There aren’t any special effects but this film doesn’t need them. It is all very realistic and focuses on the characters. There are some beautiful homes in this film. I’d happily live in any of them but particularly fell in love with Calvin’s mother’s house! The plot, script and acting combine to make this a great film.
It was written by Zoe Kazan (whose starring role as Ruby is brilliantly acted) and directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (directors of Little Miss Sunshine). As you can probably gather, I would definitely recommend watching it if you haven’t already.