“Ruby Sparks,” a new fantasy from indie darlings Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan uses an ancient story—the Greek myth of Pygmalion who fell in love with one of his creations, only to have her to come to life—as inspiration to explore an the even older issue of how men and women relate to one another.
How would you react if you could create the perfect woman? That’s a question Calvin (Paul Dano) must debate in this gentle romantic comedy. He is a blocked writer who peaked with his first book, a novel he wrote at the age of nineteen. Socially awkward and uncomfortable with his fame he creates a relationship with one of his characters, Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan). He falls in love with his quirky character–“It’s almost like I’m writing to spend time with her,” he says—spending days writing about her until slowly fiction becomes reality. “You manifested a woman in your mind?” his brother (Chris Messina) says incredulously, “Mom’s gonna freak!”
Written by star Zoe Kazan and directed by “Little Miss Sunshine” directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, “Ruby Sparks” is a refreshing wisp of fantasy that grounds itself in reality as much as possible. It asks questions—how do you react when you can control every move your creation makes?—and builds a real relationship between a lonely writer and his “creation.”
Dano and Kazan, a couple in real life, bring great chemistry along with acting chops, and elevate a story that might have become a grungy male fantasy in the hands of Judd Apatow or the like, into a sweetly observed look at the nature of loneness and love.