Calvin (Paul Dano) is struggling with writer’s block, never being able to top the success of his debut novel that he wrote when he was in his teens. He also has issues with people, confiding only in his brother and his therapist, never be able to trust who likes him for him and who just wants a piece of him. Inspired by a dream and an assignment from his therapist, he begins to write again, writing about the perfect girl- Ruby Sparks. Then, one day he wakes up and the real life Ruby (Zoe Kazan) is in his apartment. Despite his brother’s warnings, Calvin begins a relationship with his creation. Everything is perfect until Ruby starts to want a life of her own and Calvin begins to have trouble controlling her.
Many (including myself) were wary of this film due to the heavy use of the manic pixie dream girl character trope. I don’t have as big of a problem with the trope as some other people, mostly because I think, at its heart, it celebrates a woman for her personality instead of her body so it’s a step in the right direction. However, star and screenwriter Zoe Kazan really plays with the concept, showing what happens when you fall for someone based on what’s on the surface and expect them to serve your every emotional need. However, haven’t we all created our own Ruby Sparks at some point? The question we should all ask ourselves is do we want a fantasy relationship or a real one that has the occasional issues that you have to work through together?
This film also touches on the Nice Guy TM trope. Calvin is a genius, the J.D. Salinger of his generation because of course he is. Calvin is pretty much who every white guy in Brooklyn would be if he had the chance. His biggest problem is everyone thinks he’s a genius! I had trouble getting into the film until Ruby really comes on the scene because Calvin is so obnoxiously self-involved and such a typical independent film character (he even has totally crunchy hippie parents but it’s the totally adorable Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas). However, when you watch him trying to figure out how to properly control Ruby, you see that even seemingly liberal, in touch with their feelings men can still have a dark side when they don’t get their way.
Really looking forward to what the future holds for Zoe Kazan. This is her debut screenplay and it seems like she has a lot to say as a writer and an actress. The scene where she is Calvin’s puppet, being forced to say whatever he wants is incredibly painful and beautiful. This isn’t the film for anyone expecting a happy, sunny romantic comedy. The topics brought up in this film stay with you after the credits roll and can lead to really question what yourself what you would do if you had Calvin’s power over the one you loved and what you really want from relationship, the real stuff or the fantasy.