Movie Review: “Ruby Sparks” – A Rom-Com That Shines

Written by Emily McWilliams August 11, 2012

Not since “(500) Days of Summer” has a romantic comedy that is equally original, moving, and creative come along and wowed me.  Thanks to “Little Miss Sunshine” directors, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, this gap in my life has been filled in the form of “Ruby Sparks”.  The film’s premise, while magical, stays grounded in the realities and complexities of love. The film’s stars, Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan (also the film’s stellar screenwriter) are simply amazing in their first starring roles.  Dano may be familiar to audiences from supporting roles in “Little Miss Sunshine” and “There Will Be Blood” and soars in his first leading role as neurotic writer Calvin.  Kazan proves that she is a new force of talent in the filmmaking world with her energetic performance of Ruby, backed by her phenomenal script.

“Ruby Sparks. 26 years old from Dayton, Ohio.”

Calvin (Dano) is a writing prodigy.  After publishing a critically-acclaimed novel at 19, he has had some success with shorter works but struggles with a crippling bout of writer’s block while attempting to write his second book.  At the advice of his therapist, Calvin begins writing about a girl he has been dreaming about.  This dream-girl, who Calvin names Ruby (Kazan), turns into his perfect muse and the inspiration for his novel.  Calvin’s life becomes absorbed by Ruby, and he finds himself writing about her constantly, just so he can spend time with her.  After a long night of writing, Calvin wakes up to find Ruby in his kitchen.  She is no longer a character on paper sculpted by ink, but a real, living person.  However, Calvin still has the ability to write about Ruby, and everything he writes about her comes true.  While he swears he will not abuse this power, as their relationship is tested by the stress of everyday life and the problems that come along with love, Calvin finds it harder to resist tweaking Ruby into his perfect girl.

A Story of Love, Magic, and Heartbreak

“Ruby Sparks” is pure fantasy but Dayton and Faris still manage to bring the audience back to earth with insightful moments that reveal love’s beauty and ugliness.  The film is fun and bubbly, much like the character of Ruby herself, but turns dark as Calvin tries to continue controlling the relationship.  The emotional transition of the film is matched by the film’s inventive use of cinematography and soundtrack; these techniques sychronise the film’s elements of plot, atmosphere, and emotion while showcasing Dayton and Faris’ abilities as directors.

Dano and Kazan Assure Us of Their Bright Futures

Both Dano and Kazan look like they’re headed towards amazing careers.  For someone so young, Dano has shown tremendous growth and versatility in all of his performances.  Kazan sets herself apart from other 20-something actresses with her complex and truthful portrayal of Ruby.  As far as her writing goes, the script was funny and honest in a way that renewed my faith in the rom-com genre; I am looking forward to more from this talent in the future.

My Rating: 8/10

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