A few years back Calvin (Paul Dano) was seen as a child genius, his first book became a global phenomenon, and for Calvin the future looked just great. But as with many authors, writer’s block sets in, this combined with the breakdown of his relationship leaves him in an incredibly dark place. Everyone puts pressure on Calvin to deliver, but the pressure he puts on himself is by far the worst. Out of the blue, Calvin starts writing about his perfect woman, his story is not perfect, but for whatever reason he cannot get this fictional woman out of his mind. Writing from dawn till dusk, Calvin’s story becomes an obsession, and obsession that reaches breaking point when Ruby (Zoe Kazan) the girl he’s been writing about appears in his apartment. Realising he has reached a point of breakdown, Calvin hit’s the streets worried about his mental condition with Ruby in toe, but as Ruby is noticed by people on the street, Calvin realizes that she is not just a voice in his head, he has actually created a woman.
If you are a fan of Woody Allen, then Ruby Sparks is a movie that is going to be right up your street, it has a very Allenesque feel about it. From the quirky but withdrawn lead, to the character of Ruby, that is like a hybrid of all of Allen’s most neurotic characters across his career. Ruby has a little bit of Annie Hall in her in the attitude, and the unhinged, whininess of Hannah.
Written by its leading lady Ruby Sparks is an interesting screenplay from a first time writer. Kazan manages to achieve a tale that has it all, romance, comedy, fantasy, and as the movie draws to a close some very tense drama, for a first time writer to get so much right is a real blessing. Then in the acting seat, Kazan as Ruby is the woman of every-mans dreams, even though on surface level she might not seem it.
The movies directors Jonathon Drayton and Valerie Harris are no strangers to picking up an interesting, genre defying movie; their previous collaboration is the highly acclaimed Little Miss Sunshine, and they certainly seem like the perfect choice to bring Kazan’s story to life.
The chemistry between Kazan and Dano is fantastic, but it’s not the well trained performances that make it work, they are a couple in real life, and in some ways you can really feel that as they grace the screen. Something about the way Kazan looks at Dano, you can see there is real love in the look.
While everything about the movie works very well, it’s the supporting roles that really give the movie some spice. Elliot Gould plays Calvin’s psychiatrist, a man who clearly needs help himself. Annette Bening plays Calvin’s mother, and Antonio Bandaras is his ultra-crafty stepfather. And finally Steve Coogan as the treacherous publicity man, who wants his own piece of Ruby Sparks.
Like Little Miss Sunshine, Ruby Sparks may well divide an audience, but it is certain to have many more fans, than it will enemies. It’s smart, funny, and has some really dark moments to make it’s conclusion all the more heart-breaking.
Ruby Sparks is in UK cinemas from 12th of October.