What’s the girl of your dreams?
Calvin Weir-Fields is suffering from writer’s block. He was a bestseller when he was 19, and is hailed as a genius – yet the majority of his readership, though devoted, believe him to have peaked. So a typical struggle with writer’s block leads our antsy bespectacled hero to accomplish an impossible task: to pull a living, breathing human being from thin air. Her name is Ruby, Ruby Sparks, and she is here to make an initially dubious, then eventually receptive Calvin very happy indeed.
Ruby Sparks is written by its eponymous star Zoe Kazan, who’s managed to dream up a screenplay as effervescently kinetic and sinuous as her made-up character. Paul Dano’s face is so expressive, he completely sells Calvin as a hopeless neurotic, but with the traits and aspirations of a more noble disposition. The swathes of red-faced praise heaped on him have swelled his ego, unbeknownst to him and his abhorrence of the word ‘genius’, a tri-syllabic ego massage used in his presence more than once; it’s a testament to his own unspoken, vacant arrogance that he can conjure up someone as complex as Ruby Sparks.
While more lightweight concerning the mind-frying themes of its absurd, unexplained metaphysics, Ruby Sparks instead entertains the concept of romantic love, which it does with ease. The core is a fractious relationship, with its ups and downs – you realise that it’s about trying not to change the person you love, and letting them become their own person and live their own life – in this case, literally.
Ruby Sparks is a wonderful addition from Johnathan Daton and Valerie Faris, who brought the world the (overrated) Sundance hit Little Miss Sunshine. Their latest effort – which is fundamentally a science fiction – is more nuanced, and much more gripping than that. A Barton Fink for lovers of well-written American indies, this’ll have you laughing, perhaps crying, and most definitely thinking.