This is an embracing tale of love found, love lost, and love rediscovered.
Let me cut right to the heart of this splendid movie. I loved it, pure and simple. Ruby Sparks is an inventive, creative, romantic film that basically tells all viewers what we already know, namely that while love may indeed be a many splendored thing, don’t be a fool and take it for granted.
In this case, Paul Dano plays Calvin Weir-Fields, a young, successful writer who is stuck on the first page of his next novel. A convoluted mess of a nice guy, he spends a great deal of time seeking guidance from his acerbic psychiatrist, played here by the legendary Eliot Gould.
Suddenly, Dano’s writer’s block is blown to bits following his continual dreams involving a lovely young woman. He starts to create a world around her with his new piece of fiction, only to have his world collapse when he comes home one evening and finds her cooking dinner. How could a work of fiction be real? Has he gone literally insane or has the magic bus arrived at his door?
What makes Ruby Sparks so emotionally moving is Dano’s reaction when his relationship with Ruby starts to show some rough edges. Resenting its fall from perfection, he finally follows his brother’s suggestion to recreate her on the written page. Finding that he has the ability to radically change her personality, their lives proceed to get tragically unglued.
Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas play his mother and stepfather, two people that he resents given their unapologetic love affair that centers around Bandaras’ artistic skills creating furniture out of old wood. You can tell that Dano simply can’t handle his mother’s obvious romantic involvement with another kind man, and the few scenes with these wonderful actors are as inspiring as they are adorable.
Finally, Zoe Kazan is fantastic as Ruby, a female Pinocchio who has no idea that she has been created by Dano’s typewriter. She is as cute as she is vivacious, and Dano learns far too late that he should have just let her be herself and trust to fate.
I should also note that the music in this film is a knockout and it provides a pulsating feel from beginning to end. The credit goes to Nick Urata, and it helps elevate Ruby Sparks at every critical turn.
Ruby Sparks is directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, who previously brought us the enjoyable dark comedy hit, Little Miss Sunshine (2006), in which Dano also starred. While this film lacks the cohesive quality of Sunshine, it nonetheless reminds us that every successful relationship is a journey into uncharted territory. If that first kiss you experience carries the same mesmerizing feeling that Dano displayed when his lips first touch Ruby’s, then hold hands and go have an adventure.