Film Review: Ruby Sparks (Fox Searchlight; 2012)

By Peter McLoughlin @PeterGownArts

Written by, and starring, relative unknown Zoe Kazan, Ruby Sparks succeeds in posing some interesting meta-physical questions regarding gender roles – specifically the role of the male as the dominator in a relationship.  It also succeeds as an entertaining break from typical romantic comedy – although it certainly sees itself as more off-beat, and more original, than it actually is.

Paul Dano co-stars as the idiosyncratic, reclusive writer who, after writing a story about his ‘dream girl’; wakes up one day to find that she has come to life.  The central explorations of relationships  – particularly Dano’s character, Calvin’s, inability to accept Ruby as an independent women – not because she is

his creation, but because she is his girlfriend – are well explored.

But there are a number of problems with this film .  Because the ending tries – but fails – for the same circular close as the near-perfect Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, it’s hard not to draw further comparisons between the two films.  In Eternal Sunshine… the two protagonists are delightfully normal, relatable people.  In Ruby…Dano’s character in particular is an affluent, so called ‘genius’ writer, and is not a character that is easy to emphasis with. The ending of Ruby… is neat and fairy-tale-like, but, unlike Enternal Sunshine… there are some obvious failings in the logic of the conclusion.

                Ruby Sparks is enjoyable but oddly smug.  It’s well put together – but a little by-the-numbers in comic and dramatic terms.  If Looper and Killing Them Softly weren’t still in cinemas, I’d say this is as good as you can get at the moment, but as it is, I’d say you’re better spending your money on both those films first.

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