Saturday, 22 September 2012

Film Review: "Ruby Sparks" (2012)

"This is the true and impossible story of my very great love… One may… think it's magic, but falling in love is an act of magic, so is writing. It was once said of Catcher In The Rye, "That rare miracle of fiction has again come to pass: a human being has been created out of ink, paper and the imagination"… I have witnessed a rare miracle. Any writer can attest: in the luckiest, happiest state, the words are not coming from you, but through you. She came to me wholly herself, I was just lucky enough to be there to catch her." This sums up this unusual love story called Ruby Sparks. This romantic comedy-drama film directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris and written by Zoe Kazan. A novelist struggling with writer's block finds romance in a most unusual way: by creating a female character he thinks will love him, then willing her into existence.

Kazan was initially inspired by a discarded mannequin, and the myth of Pygmalion, quickly writing twenty pages, before putting the script aside for six months. She returned to the writing when she was clear on the central concept of comparing the idea of love to the actuality of it. During the writing, Kazan thought of Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo and Groundhog Day, wanting to present a slanted version of our own reality. From early in the development she wrote the lead character Calvin with her boyfriend Paul Dano in mind. Kazan thanks Warren Beatty for his indirect encouragement of Paul Dano to develop their own material, and Dano in turn suggested she write a project. Kazan shopped the script around and got the attention of Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa, the producers of Little Miss Sunshine, who sent it to directing couple Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, who took it on as the first project since Little Miss Sunshine in 2006.

The performances were all superbly performed by the cast that included Dano as the struggling novelist Calvin, Kazan as Calvin's fictional creation and the title role, Antonio Banderas as Mort, Annette Bening as Gertrude and Steve Coogan as Langdon Tharp. Dano's performance was enjoyable as he played the 'perfect' 'genius' writer who is trying to get a glimpse of the most unusual reality. Kazan's performance was beautifully played as she epitomized the role, as Hitchcock said about his lead actress Grace Kelly, of "the cool, innocent, beautiful young woman with a fire beneath."

Despite jumping through the deliberately disorienting hoops of its story, Ruby Sparks has an emotional center, and that's what makes it work. The formidable Little Miss Sunshine team/Paul Dano/Zoe Kazan axis works marvel in expressing the bewildering beauty and existential horror of being able to create a living being inside one's own addled mind and let it out into the world. To conclude, the picture has a rare power, a garbled but often moving push toward an off-beat communication.

Simon says Ruby Sparks receives: 

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