Ruby Sparks Review: A Red-headed Catalyst
Is this the real life? Or is this just fantasy? The “manic pixie dream girl” myth so popular in movies it has been called ”the scourge of modern cinema“ may have met its match in this Pygmalion-inspired study, written by and starring Zoe Kazan. Ruby Sparks springs straight from the dreams of novelist Calvin (Paul Dano), appearing out of the blue one day in his kitchen as if she had always been there. While Calvin has had a taste of success with one best-selling novel, penned while he was still a preternatural teenager, he now seems lost between the empty spaces and blank walls of his architecturally stunning home. When showing a draft of his dream girl character to his brother, Harry (Chris Messina), Calvin is quickly set straight. “You haven’t written a person,” Harry says flatly. “Quirky, messy women whose problems only make them more endearing are not real, period.”
Although Ruby emerges as flesh and blood, and their real-life romantic relationship progresses, Calvin is forced to realize he brought a character to life he never quite understood. As Calvin writes later, “A human being has been created out of ink, paper and the imagination.” Yet as a result of her very existence in the physical world, Ruby is full of underlying depth.
After a whirlwind courtship, tension builds as Ruby begins to exercise free will. It becomes increasingly clear that while there are many reasons to love the zany Ruby, there are fewer for her to care for her controlling creator. As their relationship begins to unravel, Calvin becomes increasingly desperate. Scared that Ruby may leave him, Calvin starts to “write” her again, dictating her words and actions like a helpless doll. With a few strokes of his typewriter, he can make her do or feel anything he desires to pacify his insecurities. In one scene, she sobs as she clings to him at the kitchen table. “I miss you right now,” she cries into the collar of his shirt.
Can Calvin learn to love Ruby in a way where she is still be free to be herself? How will Ruby ever survive on her own? It’s well worth watching this flick to find out.
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