Lowdown: An author’s dream girl materializes to life from the written page.
I don’t think there will be much dispute on whether Jillian Murray provides a fine example for feminine beauty. The face of Mass Effect’s Liara and an actress/model, she occasionally posts photos of herself online; photos like this one, which triggered a response asking “Wish you were mine”. On first reaction that response is creepy and scary. On second thought, however, one has to admit that most of us have entertained the fantasy of owning, for lack of a better word, our fantasy image of a member of our favorite sex. Ruby Sparks steps right into this discussion by raising the following question: well, let’s say you actually do get your fantasy woman (as per the film’s example). What happens then?
Thus we follow Calvin (Paul Dano), a young yet renowned author. He wrote the book that made him famous a decade ago and since then enjoyed the fruits of success while generally finding himself unable to reproduce the quality that brought him his fame. Neither is he able to reproduce success in his personal life: other than his brother he doesn’t have anyone special.
In response to a challenge from his shrink (Elliot Gould), Calvin starts to write a new book dealing with the girl he’s dreaming about, Ruby Sparks. Weird things start to happen – bras appear at his house, to name one example. Then the weirdest thing happens: Ruby (Zoe Kazan) appears at his house. Calvin thinks he’s mad, but after a brief struggle realizes she’s really there. Not only is she really there, she does everything he types into his typewriter. One cannot get a better dream girl than that!
Calvin vows to stop writing Ruby and let things roll. What he encounters then is real life with real people, a life lived under constantly changing circumstances. Cracks appear in that dream he’s had.
On the face of it, Ruby Sparks is a fantasy tale about the impact the written word might have in the physical world. However, the movie clearly directs things into the control realm and our need to be in control of our lives and partners, even if we know better than to expect to have full control. Thus Ruby Sparks’ lesson is clear – go with the flow, live and let live.
I liked both ideas at the core of this movie. I also liked the fact that our fantasy girl for the duration of the film was not some unimaginably beautiful specimen, the Mass Effect stuff of Yvonne Strahovski or Jillian Murray, but rather a more earthly looking woman. A woman that does not even sport the artificially whitened teeth that all other Hollywood people carry with them! The point there is that it is much easier to relate to an authentic character than to some Olympian goddess; other productions have much to learn from Ruby Sparks.
On the other hand, with all due respect to the artistic intentions behind the movie, I cannot claim to have not been bored by Ruby Sparks. Quite bored, actually, with some significant yawns along the way. Maybe it's my hectic lifestyle that leaves me too tired for movie watching during the week, but I am strongly of the opinion this an hour forty long film could have been made much better by being much shorter.
Best scene: The climax, where Calvin shows Ruby who really is the boss, is one of those cringe creating scenes that make one want to go inside the movie and shake the hero till they wake up in the real world. Such an asshole!
Overall: High potential delivered in a relatively boring package. 3 out of 5 stars.