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Ruby Sparks | The Clapper Bored

Ruby Sparks

Screenwriters in Hollywood seem to have an overriding opinion on what constitutes a neurotic’s ‘dream girl’ and this unity has given a lot of jobs to Zooey Deschanel. On the face of it Ruby Sparks looks like it’s subscribing to the same, slightly tired, fascination with kooky girls who have coloured hair and tights and do jobs like ‘exploring art’, but, beneath the surface, is a more sophisticated, implicit criticism of this fascination. At the heart of the movie is Elia Kazan’s granddaughter, Zoe Kazan (famous for being topless in Revolutionary Road for approximately one second), who wrote the film and plays the lead character, expertly dictating our opinion of Ruby and the creation of this bizarre Hollywood exclusive ideal.

The film follows Paul Dano’s wunderkind author as he struggles to churn out a second novel. Dano is on good form and it’s interesting to see a character who probably is a genius, rather than the usual charlatans that ‘real writers’ want to depict ‘fictional writers’ as. He manages, through unexplained magic, to manifest Ruby, a character in his novel, who just happens to be his perfect woman. Because he can dictate anything she feels and does (with varying degrees of subtlety) their relationship spirals out of control and goes to some relatively dark places. None of this really holds a candle to the fact that he created her out of nothing and the complications that that causes for EVERYTHING and EVERYONE. In fact, people seem to not really wonder that she’s just appeared; I guess that’s Hollywood.

If there’s a problem with Ruby Sparks it’s a lack of comedy. When Dano’s character suddenly becomes a little unhinged, the film ends up taking a frightening look at the morality of control but this doesn’t really juxtapose with the rest of the film because most of that’s been safely in ‘kooky indie lens flare romance’ territory. But Kazan is lovely as the title character and cameos from Annette Benning, Antonio Banderas and Steve Coogan all raise this ensemble lite-drama. You’ve got to assume this will make Zoe Kazan a real star, on both sides of the camera.

Sweet, simple and self-assured, Ruby Sparks is a traditional date movie with something interesting to say.

Title: Ruby Sparks
Director(s): Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Starring : Zoe Kazan, Paul Dano, Elliott Gould, Antonio Banderas, Annette Benning, Chris Messina, Steve Coogan
Running Time: 90 odd minutes
Certificate: 15

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