Written by Zoe Kazan
Directed Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Starring Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan and Chris Messina
Calvin Weir-Fields: One may read this and think it sounds like magic but love is magic. And so is writing.
Everyone has one. Every romantic out there has taken the time to close his or her eyes and picture the girl or boy of their dreams. Some are a little more specific about the details than others but lately, even those who think they know what they’re looking for are having something of a hard time finding that person. The way things are going, we’re going to have to figure out a way to create these perfect people with the sheer power of our imagination if we’re going to find that someone. In RUBY SPARKS, the second film from the celebrated directing team of LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, our hero, Calvin Weir-Fields, ends up doing just that.
Calvin (Paul Dano) is a writer and a good one at that. Before he even graduated high school, his genius, a word he has great discomfort with, produced what some are calling one of the most accomplished American novels of our time. He has produced nothing of the same significance in the ten years since then though. There is pressure all around him, from his agent, his fans and his family but no one places more pressure on him than Calvin himself. He lives alone and hasn’t been in a relationship of any kind for some time and it seems at the onset that this man has peaked before even hitting 30. Then a girl comes to him in his dreams (the adorable Zoe Kazan, who also quite impressively wrote the film’s screenplay). She is pretty and passionate but perhaps more importantly, he feels alive around her. She becomes his muse and for the first time in as long as he can remember, he is writing. He can barely even keep up with the words as they come out of him and all he wants to do all day is be with her, even if that can only be on the page and in his imagination. Then one day, she calls for him to come to breakfast from the kitchen. As I’m sure you can imagine, he is a little thrown by this.
On the surface, RUBY SPARKS may sound a little far fetched but if you give in to its more fantastical elements, you will inevitably be taken in by its abundant charm. Dayton and Faris know that they have a hurdle to get over but they also know that once they do, and they most certainly do, the audience will be treated to one of the most unexpectedly realistic looks at the modern relationship and all its pratfalls. The pitch perfect performances by Dano and Kazan make this entire journey a total joy, while still allowing the more problematic elements of their relationship (like her not being real for example) to surface when they can no longer avoid them. In doing so, RUBY SPARKS finds a near perfect balance in tone that not only delights but inspires at the same time. When it comes down to it, the person of our dreams will never truly be what we imagine. The trick then becomes allowing them to be real, to be themselves, and letting go of trying to make them into what you think you want. It may just be the only way to get what you actually need.