Friday, August 10, 2012



Love is always about power, isn’t it. Every relationship has a center of power, but when is that center equally divided between both partners?

“Ruby Sparks” becomes a cinema love story filled out with a philosophical sensibility that can’t stop looking closer at this power center. Best of all, the screenwriter, directors and actors involved are all up to the task. Way up.

Paul Dano plays Calvin, a stalled out young novelist, with such believability that you go right along with everything he does.

Zoe Kazan, who also wrote the screenplay with Dano (her real life boyfriend) in mind, plays Ruby as a plenty quirky kid with a sincere heart.

Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, the co-directors of “Little Miss Sunshine,” know all about quirky. This time out they have comfortably created a quirky version of magic realism as both a screen and literary gambit that works every time.

Think of it this way. If you loved “Little Miss Sunshine” and
“Juno,” you are going to be watching “Ruby Sparks” in the next 24 hours.

The story begins with 29-year-old Calvin living on the fumes of fame he  won at age 19 writing a novel filled with such convincing angst it has now acquired a literary mystique equal to “The Catcher in the Rye.”

In the meantime, Calvin himself has been shrinking. He hasn’t written anything. His writer’s block has become a granite block, a writer’s mausoleum.

Desperate to recapture the old magic, he keeps typing on an actual typewriter, the same one he used for that brilliant first novel. But to no avail. He sits, he dreams, the empty sheet of paper rolled up in that noisy typewriter taunts him.

Being the ultimate lonely guy, it’s only natural his fantasies would include a beautiful young woman with a beguilingly artistic nature. Then – what ho – a vision of this lovely creature suddenly appears to him as a full-sized actual person  who wants to fix his breakfast.

Yes, indeed, she is real. The kick is that she will become whatever Calvin types onto the no-longer-empty page. Does he want a girlfriend fluent in French? He has one. A girlfriend who hangs on his every word? He has one.

But then – aha! Where is the honor of having a girlfriend who isn’t her own person? Where is the complicity in that?

More layers of complication ensue. But wonderfully enough, these actors and directors know exactly how to provide what we are after. The uplifting genius of their work becomes our own romantic flying carpet.

After all, if it happened to Calvin, why not all the other lonely guys with rolled up paperbacks in their backpacks?



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