Ruby Sparks REVIEW

Ruby Sparks.

"And now I wish I'd written someone who didn't want to steal bits of my food."

Release Date: 12 October 2012
15 | 104 minutes
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Directors: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Cast: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Chris Messina, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas

Who hasn’t, at some point in their lives, wished that they could dream up the perfect partner on the page and have them magically come to life for that cinematic meet-cute and happy ending?

That’s the basic premise of Little Miss Sunshine directors Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton’s latest, which sees them working from a script by the woman playing the film’s titular muse, Zoe Kazan. That blend of Weird Science poured through a Charlie Kaufman meta-filter is what nudges this one helpfully into SFX territory.

Dano keeps the bookish Calvin – who dreams Ruby up, then confronts a romantic version of the old saying about great power and great responsibility – likeable until he goes a little off the rails, and Kazan is both bubbly, wide-eyed and human as his suddenly corporeal muse.

While the central pair (a real-life couple) display a nimble, easy chemistry, it’s the quieter, sadder moments that impress. We’ve seen commentaries on the tricky nature of relationships countless times before. But Ruby Sparks’ basic messages about how love over time is tough and how no one should seek to stifle a relationship through control are explored with a largely light touch that, when it does dip towards well-trodden paths, nimbly steps aside and tries for something a little deeper.

It doesn’t always work, and there are times when the ideas feel repetitive, but on the whole, this is a sprightly, slightly twisted take on the rom-com genre.

James White

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