MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Photo By Fox Searchlight
Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. Starring Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan.
A young man is taking his dog for a walk when he encounters a young woman who takes his breath away with her free spirited love for life. The young man is Calvin Weir-Fields (Dano), a famous writer who published a best-selling novel at the age of 19 and is now struggling with writer’s block. The young woman he meets is Ruby Sparks (Kazan); she is a product of his imagination. Since Calvin has recently ended a serious relationship and is also in need of inspiration to get him to the typewriter, Ruby is the answer to his prayers. He starts writing his next book.
Ruby becomes an obsession with Calvin and he is unable to stop thinking about her. Although she is actually somewhat of a cliché male fantasy, she is his fantasy and he soon tells his brother Harry (Chris Messina) about her. When Harry starts to see Ruby in real life, things start getting very complicated.
Ruby Sparks is a bold film that asks the question: If you were able to create your dream partner, would you? “Quirky, messy women whose problems make them endearing are not real,” Harry says. “You haven’t written a person, you’ve written a girl.” As Calvin struggles with who Ruby is, she begins to wonder as well.
The film is also about the creative process and reminded me of other films with similar themes: Being John Malkovich, Stranger Than Fiction, and even Toy Story 2.
The film is very well-directed and filmed. My only misgiving was with the casting of Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas as Calvin’s hippie parents – their celebrity stars shine too bright to allow their characters room to breathe.
It will be interesting to see if this film finds an audience. When I saw the movie, the theater was mostly filled with middle-aged and older adults who seemed to understand its rueful wisdom; young adults were buying tickets for Total Recall and The Dark Knight Rises. While Ruby Sparks makes a plea for honest relationships that embrace the messiness of life, most couples on a date are still playing the same games that occupy Calvin’s imagination.
One day, eventually, most of us learn how to put an end to childish ways. But, as long as arrested development and self-centered romanticism can survive, a love like that will have to wait.
Three halos: A thoughtful film about romantic relationships and how hard it is to give up the self-centered desires of early adulthood.
Two pitchforks For pervasive swearing, some sexual references, drug and alcohol use, and some small moments of intentional cruelty.
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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