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  Ruby Sparks Girl Of His Dreams
Year: 2012
Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Stars: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Chris Messina, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas, Aasif Mandvi, Steve Coogan, Toni Trucks, Deborah Ann Woll, Elliott Gould, Alia Shawkat, Jane Anne Thomas, John F. Beach, Eleanor Seigler, Emma Jacobs, Warren Langham
Genre: Comedy, Romance, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) is a writer, or that's the idea as his first and to date only novel may have been a huge hit, with him proclaimed as a genius for penning such an insightful work at age nineteen, but he is having a terrible time following it up. A few short stories, maybe a novella or two, but nothing substantial that would deliver on his early promise. Nowadays when he tries to write he simply sits at his typewriter and stares at the blank page, and the rest of his life is not going too well either; sure, he's comfortable living off the royalties, but as his brother Harry (Chris Messina) observes, he really needs a woman in his life...

So how about he writes one? Not intentionally, but accidentally? The actual mechanics of how the title character was brought into existence are vague here, but the fact remains that after a discussion with his psychiatrist (Elliott Gould) Calvin has a jolt of inspiration and begins a new novel, drawing from the dreams he has been having recently about an anonymous girl. The next day, after spending the evening creating, he wakes up and someone's making him breakfast - the subject of his still-uncompleted book, which naturally alarms him. In what sounds like the sort of premise that would do a ninteen-forties fantasy romance proud, he has invented a girlfriend for himself.

But a vintage movie on this basis would likely not go to the darker areas that Ruby Sparks does, even if it was yet another story which ponders on the ethics of an artist and what he owes to his characters, that was, should he treat them right like a decent human being, or for drama should he put them through some bad times, because that would make for a better tale? Not that this goes through his mind consciously, because the screenplay's author Zoe Kazan, who also played Ruby, seemed to be wrestling with the dilemma herself, which made for interesting tensions. In many ways, Calvin could be regarded as exploiting Ruby for his own personal satisfaction, and the morals of that were shady.

She is his own conception, after all, so shouldn't he do what he likes with her? Because that's essentially what he does: once he's over the shock, he is pleased to have someone around the house who adores him, and she's as fascinating a person to him as he can make her, for he's made his dream girl flesh. The only person he tells is Harry, who immediately thinks up all sorts of dodgy things they could get up to in order to make her more of a sex object, but Calvin believes his motives should be purer than that, and is content to leave her the way she has sprung from the page. So much for that idea, as after a meandering middle section where he introduces Ruby to his family, he finds she's getting a little too human.

In that she might have a mind of her own, and might not see spending the rest of her life with Calvin as the best use of her time, so in an act of desperation he sits back down at his typewriter (which may be magic, much like the computer in Stephen King's short story Word Processor of the Gods) and composes an alternative personality trait to make Ruby stick around. The effect is to make the woman pathetic and clingy, which having brought out Calvin's inner misogynist he's quite pleased about until it gets too ridiculous even for him, so he makes her cheer up and be joyful, which starts to grate, and... basically whatever he does he's not satisfied with, as if Pygmalion hadn't stopped when the Gods breathed life into his statue and kept chipping away at her until there was a mess left. The message here is that if you're in love, you have to accept the object of your affection is not perfect and love them for that anyway, rather pat perhaps, and the coda doesn't help, but this wasn't the fluffy romcom it seemed. Music by Nick Urata.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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