MIFF: Ruby Sparks

The latest from the directors behind \'Little Miss Sunshine\' rings of instant indie classic.

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Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano, Little Miss Sunshine, There Will Be Blood) is a ‘genius’ – an adjective he hates, because he knows the truth; the fact that he wrote a brilliant novel ten years ago seems irrelevant in light of the fact he hasn’t written anything since. He’s too repressed to have a girlfriend and, as his married best-friend-brother, Harry (Chris Messina) says, he doesn’t know shit about women. On the advice of his therapist, Calvin writes about the kind of girl he might like to meet. When he finds himself drawn to write about Ruby (Zoe Kazan, who also penned the screenplay), the mysteriously sexy and perfect girl he has dreamt about, she seems almost real to him. And then… she kind of is.

Ruby Sparks is one of those great movies about writing that writers always write well. This stuff is real, for writers – writing is a solitary, often spouse-less ordeal that leads to the kind of genius insocialite that Calvin has become. His brother is the perfect opposite to Calvin’s childish and introspective melancholy, which Dano himself plays to a tee. I love this guy’s face. It’s so good to actually hear his voice after playing the mute emo in Little Miss Sunshine. Ruby is excellently unreal – she is gorgeous, with electric blue eyes and fire red hair, wears cute clothes and says ‘what’ innocently when looked at, knowing exactly ‘what’. Kazan is perfect for the role.

This film should rip it out at the box office. It’s a great, satisfying story with real depth of character. It’s a romantic comedy with actual writing, and real soul. Calvin is one of those characters with real issues; Dano’s take on the cruel, abysmal young man, especially towards his character’s crisis point, suggests even more good stuff to come from this actor.

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