REVIEW – Ruby Sparks

Metastasis
Review by Vives Anunciacion
Published Inquirer Libre September 19, 2012

Ruby Sparks
Directed by Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Exclusive in Ayala Cinemas

The dictionary defines metastasis as “the development of secondary malignant growths at a distance from a primary site of cancer.” An unexpected off-shoot, different from the source.

I didn’t know anything about Ruby Sparks prior to the media screening, other than it was directed by husband-and-wife tandem Jonathan Dayton & Valeri Faris, the same makers of Little Miss Sunshine. Ruby Sparks turned out to be an unexpectedly original, unexpectedly magical metaphysical love story. Who knew!

Paul Dano has improved quite well as an actor from making a good impression in The Ballad of Jack and Rose and in Little Miss Sunshine to a strong performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Americana,There Will Be Blood. He does his best performance so far as Calvin Weir-Fields, a successful novelist suffering from writer’s block in Ruby Sparks.

He gets inspiration from the woman who keeps appearing in his dreams. He starts writing again, furiously hitting the keys of his vintage typewriter, like someone who has fallen madly in love with his ideal lady. He calls his new character Ruby Sparks, and treats her like a girlfriend. About a week later, Calvin wakes up and finds a living, breathing Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan) cooking breakfast in his kitchen. He thinks he’s gone nuts.

It’s quite the peculiar metaphysical love story, Ruby Sparks. It creeps up from under you like a surprise party from your family. The gesture is sweet and unexpected, and you don’t complain about it afterwards. Meta love stories aren’t a complete genre in film or literature, but they do exist. The Avenger’s Joss Whedon’s next movie is said to be a meta love story called In Your Eyes. One can say the classic Somewhere in Time (1980, directed by Jeannot Szwarc) is a meta love story, but it involves time-travel which automatically categorizes it in sci-fi.

Zoe Kazan, the true-life girlfriend of Dano, wrote the screenplay of Ruby Sparks and plays the character quite well. The talent runs in her family. Her mother wrote The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, her father wrote Reversal of Fortune. Her granddad, the legendary Elia Kazan, directed the stage and film adaptations of A Streetcar Named Desire. In the film’s traumatic climax, Kazan runs through a multitude of emotions as Calvin demonstrates to Ruby the power of his typewritten words.

If only Ruby Sparks ended as strongly as its concept and not opt for the usual Hollywood sugary happy ending, this would have been an instant classic.

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