The best part of Ruby Sparks is not the person he creates but rather the person he becomes.
From the directors of Little Miss Sunshine comes Ruby Sparks, a whimsical film about a struggling writer who falls in love with a character he makes up. The film was written by Zoe Kazan who plays the lead role of Ruby Sparks. It is slightly ironic considering the film is about a writer bringing a character to life; which is essentially what she has done here for herself. You might go in expecting a standard romantic comedy and if so you will be pleasantly surprised that it is more than just that.
At one point (I will not say when) a character says “Just don’t tell me how it ends”, which is what I intend to abide. It is not really an easy film to spoil because the big “twist”, if you can call it that, is not really spoiling it. I do not believe it is a spoiler if that is what the entire film is about, enough to where they include it in the official synopsis and trailers. But thankfully, Ruby Sparks is much more serious than the trailers let on. However, if you are an absolute purist; which I would doubt you would be if you made it this far, then you should stop right here and read nothing more about the film. As always, I never try to ruin a film in my reviews for anyone who has not seen the film yet.
Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) is a famous writer who is struggling to find both inspiration for his next novel as well as romance in his life. The highly-acclaimed novel that made him famous is now ten years old and he has not made a very successful follow up since. So now he is currently working on what he hopes to be his next big hit and prove to himself that his career has not peaked. Not helping his confidence is his agent when he admits that living up to your first work is hard when it is a mega hit. And that “sophomore slump” syndrome does not happen when you are mediocre to begin with. Not wise words to tell someone when they are having a writer’s block.
Calvin mentions early on that he does not want to use his fame to get girls because he knows that they would not really like him for who he is. Instead, he uses some clever tricks suggested to him by his therapist to meet people such as, getting a dog so people stop to talk to him on the street. He is inexperienced in the dating world as he has only had one serious relationship in his life. Add that fact that he is awkward and shy makes it hard for him to meet someone.
It is not until Calvin starts having dreams about the character he made up for his new book that he gets inspired to write. Calvin creates Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan), as the girl he has always wanted to be with, the perfect girl in his eyes. He gets so inspired that he cannot stop writing. Then he realizes that the reason he wants to write so much is because he fell in love with the girl he created. Which is healthy for his career but not for his personal life.
Ruby shows up in his dreams more and more until one day he no longer has to dream about her because she suddenly shows up in his real life. Of course, he believes she is imaginary because how could she exist? It is a writer’s fantasy to create someone who is perfect for you then magically you meet that person. As time passes he realizes that she may not be completely perfect as he was expecting.
The great moral of the film is that even the perfect girl from your dreams is going to have faults and to try to change them is both dangerous and wrong. As the old adage goes, be careful for what you wish for, it just may come true. There are major drawbacks to trying to play God. Calvin’s brother pointed it out to him at the beginning of the film when he said that the honeymoon phase of a relationship does not last; women are different up close.
There is a great scene where we see Calvin on a sofa talking to himself. Or at least that is what it appears. There is a deep voice that seems like it is coming from his head until it is revealed when he lays down and the shot opens up to spot the man who was sitting in front of him. The man ends up being his therapist. The reason why this short scene is so interesting is it is before we start seeing the character he makes up appear in his life. So it sets the stage, if you will, for what was to come later in the film.
Ruby Sparks could have been a very different film if it had chosen to focus on what I feel like a lot of filmmakers would have focused on, which is the gimmicky part of the film. Instead, it pleads with you not to try to make sense of it because it does not even bother to explain how it happens. Similar to what Midnight in Paris did, it just embraces the magic of it all and asks you to imagine what if it could be true. Besides, the best part of the film is not the person he creates but rather the person he becomes.