Invite Ruby Sparks into your lifeDaniel Dercksen
Daniel Dercksen: Woody Allen has got competition in the delightful film fable Ruby Sparks.
Having ruled the world of cinema since the 70s with imaginative and fantastical fictional creations, Allen’s serious opposition is playwright, screenwriter and actress Zoe Kazan, whose delightful fable Ruby Sparks is pure comedic genius.
With a light touch and a dash of magical realism, Kazan makes a powerful impact as writer with her witty and inspired debut screenplay, and also shines as a performer of note in the title role, that of a girl who exists in the mind of a novelist who suffers from severe writer’s block.
Just when you thought cinema’s inspired mindscape was clouded by reheated remakes and uninspired new tales, along comes the utterly refreshing and remarkable Ruby Sparks.
In this fantasy-romance, a young writer, who struggles with early success blocking his creativity, encounters his worst nightmare when a fictional muse who inspires a new novel materialises and becomes part of his real life.
It’s one of those magical creative masterworks that draw you into a fictional reality you will never forget.
Paul Dano, who delivered stunning performances in There Will Be Blood and being Flynn, is sensational as the nerdy young Calcin, whose intellect and inferior complex prevent him from finding true love and exploring life to its fullest. Calvin may have a great imagination, but is as dull as dirt.
Kazan, who is Dano’s real-life girlfriend, is perfect as everyman’s dream girl, who is severely challenged by the reality of her creator and not allowed to showcase her fragile disposition or express her own thoughts.
Equally brilliant is Chris Messina as Calvin’s hot-headed and impassioned brother who will go to the extreme to help his younger brother cross over from mundane nothingness to supreme bliss.
Annette Bening, as Calvin’s zany New Age mother, and Antonio Banderas as her bohemian lover, add fuel to the fire as they irritate and embarrass Calvin with their sexual liberation.
Directors Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris, a married filmmaking team who made their feature film directorial debut with Little Miss Sunshine, never allows the fantasy of Ruby Sparks to run wild and spiral out of control into silly jesting, but skilfully tames the wild and wacky story with a sensible and sensitive approach.
The intelligent concept is difficult to pull off and one that can easily fall apart if we do not believe in the suspended disbelief, but with Ruby Sparks, the end result is one of the most original films that you will remember forever.
It’s also one of those rare films that completely seduces your senses and questions your own reality and the world you live in, without getting too serious or morose.
If you are looking for a brainy film that is funny, poignant and filled with vibrant characters, Ruby Sparks will not disappoint.
Invite Ruby Sparks into your life and you are guaranteed to make a new friend, even if it only exists in your fertile imagination.
Freelance film and theatre journalist
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