Ruby Sparks

“Calvin” (Paul Dano) has always been a bit eccentric. Somehow he managed to publish a novel which became a huge success, but now he”s stimied, and loney, and more eccentric than ever. Suddenly a dream girl enters his life! But is “Ruby” (Kazan) real or just a figment of his imagination? Dayton/Ferris film is definitely charming, but the pieces don’t quite come together as they should. Click HERE for our FF2 Haiku.

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I am a fervent fan of Little Miss Sunshine, so I attended the Ruby Sparks screening with very high expectations. After all, it was directed by LMS’s husband/wife co-directing team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. But alas, altho there were many things I really enjoyed about Ruby Sparks, there were also things that didn’t quite work for me…

The main character is “Calvin Weir-Fields” (Paul Dano) a writer who is a bit of a boy-wonder phenom. His first novel, written when he was very young, became a financial success as well as a cultural touchstone, so what to do for an encore?

Calvin is a lonely fellow who lives in his imagination. Then, one day, a girl named “Ruby Sparks” (Zoe Kazan) appears. Is she real, or is she the heroine of his new novel? Calvin can’t tell. So he starts feverishly writing things for her to do and say… and she does! But then his creation starts to develop a will of her own. What is Calvin to make of all this?

Zoe Kazan has written wonderful parts for both herself and for Paul Dano. She’s the granddaughter of director Elia Kazan and the daughter of screenwriters Nicholas Kazan and Robin Swicord, so whether it’s genetic or she learned through osmossis, “Ruby,” the part she wrote for herself–in her very first screenplay–is a delight.

And she did pretty well with most of the other characters individually as well. Chris Messina (as Calvin’s brother), Elliott Gould (as Calvin’s therpist) and Annette Benning and Antonio Banderas (as Calvin’s parents) all have their moments. So I really want to love Ruby Sparks, but, alas, I just don’t.  Act Three is just a little too incoherent, and the grand finale is just a bit too cute.

Still, I can hardly wait to see what Zoe Kazan comes up with next 🙂

Photo Credits: Merrick Morton/Fox Searchlight

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