Imagine a world where you could create your perfect partner. You could erase all their annoying tendencies to suit your whimsical desires at the tap of a typewriter. This is the crux of Ruby Sparks, the fantastical, accidental creation of Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano of Little Miss Sunshine fame) – a young, accomplished writer in desperate search for his second wind of literary success.
Calvin’s sodden lovelife clips the wings of his writing career, much to the dismay of his brother, who is as masculine as a king size Yorkie bar and wants nothing but to see his brother sow some honeyed oats.
The notion of power versus responsibility is the backbone to this tale, inspired by the Greek Pygmalion myth.
In a complete parallel to his brother’s alpha maleism, the puny Calvin acts out his misery by having wide-eye-offs with his dog, batting off bookish babes, writhing around on the couch of his shrink (played by Elliott Gould) and sinking into the pillows of his luxury sofa in his contemporary home. The boy has an acute case of first world, middle-class problems.
This gloomy life is soon illuminated by the almost science fiction creation of Ruby – a saucer-eyed, flame-headed female with a weakness for neon tights and bad boys… until she meets Calvin, the naughtiness equivalent of standing on the wrong side of the escalator.
Ruby (Zoe Kazan) is a dream come true – literary and literally – and once Calvin stops getting the spooks about her existence (yes, she is a real girl; she wears pink mesh bras and everything) our Geppetto 2.0 falls in love with his Pinocchio and starts tugging begrudgingly and curiously at her strings.
Now, the problem with real girls is that they have real habits and desires. Ruby wants to be introduced to his mother. Ruby changes her mind. Ruby doesn’t always want sex. Ruby naively flirts with guys at parties. With the knowledge that her personality and actions are ultimately determined by the flex of his fingers and the ding of his typewriter, Calvin is then faced with a conundrum: does he rewrite her?
Up until now, in a testament to the healthy flush of love’s first lap on the circuits of a new romance, he would not and could not change her. She is perfection personified. He would spread her earwax on a dry crumpet. But as love lapses, Ruby needs a little space from their cohabiting suffocation, which unnerves Calvin and challenges his position of power.
There are some rather jerky tone shifts. The tea cup ride soon spins into turmoil as the complexities of their coupling become tangled. The notion of power versus responsibility is the backbone to this tale, inspired by the Greek Pygmalion myth.
Ruby Sparks has depth. Anyone who’s witnessed or been a part of a relationship where the balance of power has been abused will nod their way knowingly though the metaphors and familiarities of the curdling drama in this poignant and bewitching film.
Ruby Sparks is another seminar in the Hollywood school of life and tells us that, like trying to fold a piece of paper more than seven times, it’s impossible to bend people exactly to your whim. One has to accept people just as they are. Warts, wobbles and all. 4/5