Ruby Sparks: Love is a Fantasy We Can Make Real
is equal parts a quirky romance with fantastical elements and a heart-wrenching and disturbing study on selfishness and need and desire. Calvin (Paul Dano of Little Miss Sunshine
and There Will Be Blood
) is a high school
drop-out who wrote a bestselling book
in his teens and, ten years later, still has yet to release his follow-up novel. His psychiatrist (Elliott Gould of Ocean's Eleven
to Ocean's Thirteen
) suggests a writing exercise: to write about meeting a person as a means to help Calvin out of his writer's block and his anti-social tendencies. Calvin begins writing Ruby (Zoe Kazan of It's Complicated
) and as he falls in love with her, she slowly becomes real until, one day, she appears in his house
begins as an intelligent, subdued comedy about the pitfalls of fame, early success, and loneliness until Ruby makes her incredible appearance and then the film shifts effortlessly into a fantastical romance rooted in Zoe Kazan's pitch-perfect portrayal of the quirky and charming made-up painter of Calvin's longing. And then, as their love begins to gain ground, it shifts effortlessly again into the painful truth about the demands of love and freedom. If that isn't amazing enough, by the final act, the film
successfully manages to merge all three modes for a magnificent climax that is equal parts disturbing, fascinating, and brutally honest, with an ending that will take your breath away from the sheer inevitability of the storytelling.Wondering where to watch your movies? Check out this EYP directory of cinemas and take your pick.
Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan are magnificent as Calvin and Ruby. They strike you as fully-formed and realistic people who you could recognize off your list of friends.They are recognizable because they are so honest, not because they cling to particular stereotypes. Everything is so complex but so in sync with real life that it is recognizable. They are also joined by an amazing supporting cast
who matches them line for line, including Annette Bening (American Beauty
), who plays Calvin's hippie mom; Antonio Banderas (The Legend of Zorro
), who plays Calvin's hippie mom's boyfriend; Chris Messina (Julie & Julia
), as Calvin's older brother; and the beautiful and always impressive Deborah Ann Woll (True Blood
), as Calvin's ex-girlfriend.
But despite my heaps of praises, this is not an easy film
to get into. As I mentioned, the first part comes off as very subdued. There will be a lot of people who might not root for Calvin because he can come across as severely flawed. This is saved by Paul Dano's excellent performance that keeps you drawn in and his utter joy in finding "the one" is so universal that it keeps you in your seat. When it turns romantic, there is always that dread that this isn't real. We know it but we fall anyway because it is so well played out. But with the knowledge that Ruby is an imagined person made real, there is always that looming dread. And when the dark turn happens, when fantasy turns into reality, and creator and created must face the truth of their own humanity, our hearts are twisted and left bleeding.
That is the magic
of the film: its honest depiction of a certain truth about love that we all have come to hear at some point in our lives yet seem to forget when we are in it. I won't say what that truth is, you'll have to watch it to know it but make no mistake, you'll recognize it when it happens.Juice Recommends:Speaking of dreams coming true and fictional characters, what do you think of fairy tales being adapted into movies?Join us at Juice Out of Town and we'll take you places - just like in the books and movies!