Jeri Jacquin, Movie Maven
Jenise Jacquin, Film Brat
Opening in theatres this Friday from directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, writer Zoe Kazan and Fox Searchlight Pictures is a look into relationships from a quirky place with RUBY SPARKS.
This film tells the story of Calvin (Paul Dano), a young author who is having a little problem with writers block. With one successful book there is always the question ‘when is your next book coming out’ adding to his stress.
Not the most social of individuals, Calvin recently broke up with his girlfriend and can’t seem to get past it. Seeing his therapist Dr. Rosenthal (Elliot Gould) once a week hasn’t helped much either although he does suggest that Calvin just write a short piece for motivation.
What happens next even Calvin couldn’t have predicted. He begins writing about a girl named Ruby Sparks. She is a girl who absolutely loves Calvin and as he writes more and more a book begins to emerge – with one side effect. Through all his words Calvin has brought Ruby to life.
Calvin calls his brother Harry (Chris Messina) for confirmation that Ruby is indeed real! Calvin begins to feel happiness with Ruby that is so amazing that he puts the book away and lives a life with her. As they become a couple, as with any couple, things change when Ruby pulls away from Calvin to explore her own life.
That’s when Calvin learns what love and loss truly are – and what is the right thing to do for everyone.
FINAL WORD: Dano as Calvin is so lovely, wounded, sad and amazing. Although this young man hides in his misery it is everywhere around him. Dano has this stellar ability to bring you into this world of his and hold you in it with the mere look of his eyes. I have fallen for this before in his role from the film THERE WILL BE BLOOD. Watching his performance in RUBY SPARKS, it is a roller coaster to be sure but one that doesn’t let much slip by. Truthfully, I was drained, in a good way, by the journey he took us on.
Kazan is absolutely delightful as Ruby. Another exhausting performance as well as I cannot even begin to imagine what it took energy wise for a few of those scenes. Responsible for the writing of this film, knowing where Ruby was going and what it would take to get her there had to be mentally exhausting as well. The outcome is spectacular! This is such an interesting look inside a relationship molded by one person’s needs that the outcome is not surprising at all yet – is.
Messina as Calvin’s brother is so loving and silly at the same time. I really enjoyed his reaction to what Calvin is going through and how Harry’s mind worked trying to relate it to his own relationship. Such a guy!
Gould’s role as Dr. Rosenthal, although brief, is also lovely. I truly enjoy this versatile actor and savor the times when he does grab a role like this one and adds warmth and humanity to the film.
Bening and Banderas as Calvin’s Mom and her boyfriend are hysterical but pretty much what I would expect of Calvin’s support system. They are so light hearted and open which only adds to Calvin’s frustration and discomfort of “why can’t I be more like them?”
Other cast include: Aasif Mandvi as Cyrus Modi, Steve Coogan as Langdon Tharp, Toni Trucks as Susi, Debra Ann Woll as Lila, Annette Bening as Gertrude and Antonio Banderas as Mort.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give RUBY SPARKS four tubs of popcorn out of five. This truly is an interesting perspective on relationships in so many different ways. The music is also pretty cool as well. With a soundtrack on Milan Records there is music from Nick Urata. Plastic Bertrand, Holden, Sylvie Vartan, Derrick Harriot, and The Lions.
FILM BRAT – The story is so original and the acting is spot on. Finally, a story that people can relate to. It is painfully romantic and dark all at the same time. It can reach all ages and all those in relationships past and present. RUBY SPARKS is the kind of movie that one thinks about long after the film is over – and that’s a good thing. If I had another hand I’d give it three thumbs up.
Kazan has a pedigree that gives us an idea of where her talent comes from. Granddaughter of Oscar winning director of ON THE WATERFRONT, Elias Kazan and daughter of Nicholas Kazan who wrote THE EDGE, MOBSTERS and ENOUGH, Zoe is keeping up with the family business.
On writing Kazan says, “I always wrote. My parents are writers. It just seemed like something people did. I took a writing class in college, liked it, and my first year out of school I couldn’t get a job, so I wrote a play. I never wanted to be a playwright, I just didn’t say no to any of my interests.”
Let us hope that Zoe continues on the track of writing because RUBY SPARKS is definitely a must see for audiences. It is different, has its twists and has an honesty we appreciate. Click here for RUBY SPARKS head to http://moviemaven.intuitwebsites.com for an exclusive interview with Zoe Kazan as well as directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris.
In the end – she’s out of his mind.