Review: Ruby Sparks ignites a wonderful love story
What if the man or woman of your dreams appeared in front of your very eyes one day; what would you do? This romantic comedy written by and starring the promising talent of Zoe Kazan, brings us exactly that concept and takes us through the highs and lows of a relationship with a perfectly constructed partner. Your heart’s desire. Your perfect man/woman. A dream come true. Just imagine the possibilities...
What brings this fantasy to reality for one struggling writer? Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan). And if there was ever a film that made me smile practically the whole way through, this would be one of them.
From the husband-and-wife directorial team behind Little Miss Sunshine, Ruby Sparks follows the romantic adventure of Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) – a writer famous for a New York best-seller he wrote about ten years earlier. Despite him being the text book definition of geek – lanky physique, moppy hair and specs, all emphasised by his jock of a brother, Harry (Chris Messina) – he is still adored by his book-following fans and regularly sought out by his agents, encouraging him to produce a successful follow-up novel. The only problem is... he has writer’s block.
With so much expectation riding on his future material, Calvin confides in the only one that he trusts to make sense of his anxieties: his therapist Dr. Rosenthal (Elliot Gould). Calvin unfurls as a frantic character – but in a good way – in his fears, his passions, his writing and, most likeably, in the way he predicts to love, given a chance of finding the right girl. I could safely say that I really liked his character and I’m sure, for a lot of the women watching, he could even be a guilty pleasure. I’d imagine his soft persona and romantic longings are endearing and relatable to the female audience.
Then, these dreams start... They are tangible, even to me as I watch: sun setting rays beam around a silhouetted figure, an obscured face by the shadows, hair a brilliant red catching the wind, and a little voice asking where her shoe has gone.
And boom, he begins to write again. He scurries to his typewriter (it’s like it’s not 2012!) and desperately puts his imaginings to paper before they vanish from his mind. Calvin gradually finds himself addicted to fantasising of this mystery woman in his dreams, of his dreams, and looks forward to going to bed just to wake up the next morning and write about her again. Ruby Sparks, he names her. He is in love. But how can that be, he exclaims to his therapist. How can that be, I ask too.
One morning, when Calvin is late to show his agent the development in his writings, he finds Ruby making him breakfast in his kitchen. Wait, what? In real life? In the flesh? Yes...
Unsurprisingly, our rejuvinated writer can hardly believe it either, and the events that follow, including his attempts to prove her existence, are a chain reaction of welcome laughs. Meathead Harry is brilliant as a point of contrast to his brother: his ‘tits-and-blow-jobs, successful business man, married with a kid’ existence provides just as many laughs as our protagonist. In fact, the entire supporting cast, which includes Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening and Steve Coogan, do a great job of keeping the giggles going.
I thought that this film was delightful. The love theme is truly romantic, funny, sweet and applicable to every daydreamer’s life. My only qualms entered towards the end – and in the ending itself – when I found events a tad predictable and perhaps cheesier than the film was worth.
Ruby Sparks is beautiful as an unexplained phenomenon. She just appears, and one needed not explain that. After the initial shock, it was just accepted that Calvin dreamed up this girl and then she manifested, and that was reason enough to keep watching without further questions. Because it was Calvin’s dream girl and everything he wanted, I was happy for him, and that’s what made the story work. But as the film progressed, the questions grew more with urgency in my mind and the most prominent was, ‘how would this end?’ Unfortunately it is the ending and the build up to it that kind of let the side down.
Minor disappointments and minus points aside, Ruby Sparks is undeniably a true romantic comedy. So what if the ending wasn’t the best? The rest of it makes up for the negatives far and beyond, and the characters were a joy to watch, cohesively funny, and the story, albeit up to a point, really worked its magic. Whether the ending was avoidable or not, we will never know, but nevertheless – it was sweet and easy on the heart.
All my praise has to go primarily to Zoe Kazan for writing the screenplay and starring in this marvel, and actually doing a good job in both! She is a dazzling Ruby Sparks and alongside her real-life boyfriend, Paul Dano, she makes the unbelievable totally believable in an effortless and naturally funny way.
My final words: I loved this love story. Sometimes the most brilliant of things can’t be explained, and sometimes, it’s better that way.
Ruby sparks hits UK cinemas Friday October 12th