Ruby Sparks | Film Reviews | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Ruby Sparks 

A compelling, unhealthy relationship

Pin It
Favorite
click to enlarge Ruby Sparks - FOX SEARCHLIGHT
  • Fox Searchlight
  • Ruby Sparks

It’s no surprise that the trailer for Ruby Sparks inspired dread in some film journalists. Here she was again, it appeared: That perky, quirky, romantic heroine dubbed by pop-culture writer Nathan Rabin “the manic pixie dream girl” who existed solely to teach Our Hero important lessons in life and love.

But in the same way that Brave is “about” animated princesses only in the sense that it subverts the trope, Zoe Kazan’s script for Ruby Sparks turns the MPDG inside-out. Her fanciful premise tells the story of Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano), whose debut novel written as a teenager became a literary sensation. He has spent the subsequent decade, however, wallowing in writer’s block—until an assignment from his therapist (Elliott Gould) leads him to write about the woman (literally) of his dreams. And then he walks into his kitchen one day and finds that the girl he created on the page, Ruby (Kazan), has come to actual flesh-and-blood life.

Kazan and directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris—who worked with Dano in Little Miss Sunshine—take a real risk in making Calvin a narcissistic mess of a guy. Wrapped up in his self-image as a sensitive tortured artist—he bangs away on a manual typewriter and broods over the loss of his dead father and his previous girlfriend—Calvin finds it impossible to interact with real people or create anything meaningful. When he realizes his ongoing writing can make Ruby do whatever he wants, he becomes a creepy stand-in for unhealthy relationships of all kinds.

That’s what makes Kazan’s story so compelling: It’s an assault on women existing in art—and the world—strictly as male accessories. The conclusion may offer a slightly too upbeat resolution in relation to what precedes it, but it’s terrific as a case study in narcissism masquerading as true love.

RUBY SPARKS

3_5_stars.gif

Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan
Rated R

Twitter: @ScottRenshaw

Pin It
Favorite

Speaking of , ,

  • All There Is to Offer

    One year soaking up Salt Lake City's seam-bursting local music scene.
    • Jul 18, 2018
  • Techie Teachers

    Online mentorship program opens virtual doors for Big Brothers Big Sisters.
    • Jul 18, 2018
  • Holy Spirits 2018

    A-Z Cocktail Guide
    • Jul 18, 2018
  • More »

More by Scott Renshaw

Latest in Film Reviews

  • Worth a 'Damn'

    A preview of several features from this year's Damn These Heels LGBTQ Film Festival.
    • Jul 18, 2018
  • Adversarial System

    Church and State shapes the marriage-equality fight with unique heroes and villains.
    • Jul 11, 2018
  • Small Favors

    Ant-Man and the Wasp helps make comic-book action feel fun again.
    • Jul 4, 2018
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • List We Forget ...

    Celebrating the best of 2016 in film.
    • Dec 28, 2016
  • Kid Stuff

    A lovely child performance anchors the satisfying family drama of Gifted.
    • Apr 12, 2017

© 2018 Salt Lake City Weekly

Website powered by Foundation