Calvin Weir-Fields is a genius, just don’t say that to his face. At the tender age of 19 he wrote a novel which quickly became a best-seller, establishing him as an Author Of Note™. Unfortunately for Calvin and his many fans, he hasn’t been able to replicate his creative spark in the last ten years.
Fortunately for Calvin, his therapist (Elliott Gould, otherwise known as Ross and Monica’s dad) gives him an assignment. Write something. Write something bad.
He writes a brief story about a dream he had. A dream about a beautiful girl, called Ruby Sparks. Quirky, zany and full of life. It’s a good story. It’s not a great story. As his brother wonderfully foreshadows, “you haven’t written a person, you’ve written a girl.”
What happens next is a scene reminiscent of Stranger than Fiction when a real-life Ruby Sparks appears in his home. She’s everything he dreamed of. Literally. She loves him and everybody loves her. She’s the perfect woman.
What the film does right is not to tell a one-dimensional story. Calvin does not simply sit at his typewriter and command “and then her boobs grew” or “and then her best friend walked in”. He loves her, just the way she is. She is a person with all of the flaws and peccadilloes of reality.
But what if they could be rewritten?
This is where the film shines. If you remove a person’s weaknesses, what do they become? Are they still a person? Will you care about them less? If they are your creation aren’t they technically your child?
Paul Dano is wonderful as Calvin. He’s nervous, excitable and deeply, deeply flawed. Zoe Kazan is cute as Ruby Sparks, although one gets the impression that the director simply said to her “You know Zooey Deschanel? Be like her.”
The two work beautifully as a couple, exhibiting everything from romantic love to claws-in-the-eyes anger. The pair are no doubt drawing on their real life romance, they have been dating since April, 2009.
Antonio Banderas and Annette Bening are Calvin’s diametrically opposite free-spirited parents. They are a cute couple whose house I wish to visit some day.
Ruby Sparks is a tender story, warm and at times painful. The ending has caused a few debates between people, it seemed a little less thought out than the rest of the movie. In the very specific “fictional character comes to life” genre it doesn’t hold a candle to Stranger than Fiction, but it scratches an itch.