Monday, October 22, 2012


"Ruby Sparks" charmed my socks off. Among the plethora of indie comedies, this film stands out as it seems to poke fun at certain staples of the genre itself. On IMDb, someone called this film "Manic Pixie Dream Girl: The Movie" and I think it’s an astute observation. The plot tells the story of a writer struggling with declining fame, a breakup and writer’s block. While going through his misery, Calvin (Paul Dano) one day finds inspiration in the concept of writing about the beautiful girl that he dreams of at night. To his surprise and bewilderment, he somehow possesses the power to manifest his fantasy into reality. He wakes to find her in his home and like a true manic pixie dream girl, she changes him for the better. They fall in love and she re-introduces him to the joys of life. As the story progresses, the film finds some brilliant moments to comment on our unrealistic ideals of the magical female. Prior to the real-world appearance of this girl named Ruby Sparks (played by Zoe Kazan), Calvin gives an early draft of his novel to his brother. After reading it he says "quirky, messy women whose problems only make them endearing are not real". It’s a real harbinger for the type of character that Calvin envisions Ruby to be. She represents all those excessively quirky (but lovable) female characters we see in movies, that we know couldn't function in real society. As Harry goes on to say, "You haven’t written a person". As Calvin tries to let Ruby live without forcing her actions, he comes to realize the truth behind his brother’s statements. The film makes Calvin and the viewer realize the folly of the manic pixie dream girl character. It’s a situation of "you can’t have your cake and eat it too". Specifically, it’s unrealistic for a woman to be so infinitely carefree and yet so willing to become wholeheartedly smitten with a single person. As a woman, Zoe Kazan understands this issue first-hand and I love how she addresses it in her script. It ultimately makes for a more satisfying viewing experience than the typical indie romcom in this vein.
Aside from the interesting screenplay, the film really appealed to me due to the performances of Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan. They are so charming and have such great chemistry together. It’s no surprise that they are dating in real life. They really do sell the romance and the humour. Chris Messina also amuses with his flabbergasted reactions to this perplexing situation. Overall, the film may be too decidedly pleasant for some. For me, the subject matter is thought-provoking enough to make me accept the extra servings of sugar.