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Movie review: 'Ruby Sparks'
With a genuine spark between its leads, thought-provoking themes about love and identity and a hefty dash of magical realism, the unconventional romantic comedy “Ruby Sparks” offers a welcome change of pace from the usual formulaic, assembly-line Hollywood rom-coms.
With her first screenplay, playwright/actress Zoe Kazan (granddaughter of legendary director Elia Kazan), who also fills the film's leading lady role, pens a keen modern-day retelling of the Greek myth of the sculptor Pygmalion, who fell in love with his statue of a woman, Galatea, only to have his carving come to life.
Kazan's real-life boyfriend Paul Dano stars as emotionally arrested author Calvin Weir-Fields, who became an overnight literary sensation when his first novel was published when he was just 19 years old.
Beleaguered by sudden fame, huge expectations and pervasive writer's block, he has become a veritable recluse while struggling to pen his sophomore book. He spends his days holed up in his minimalist mansion, staring at the blank page in his old-school typewriter and limiting his contact with the outside world to just his everyman older brother Harry (Chris Messina), his inquisitive therapist Dr. Rosenthal (Elliott Gould) and his ornery dog Scotty.
In the midst of his personal and professional quagmire, Calvin dreams up a charmingly nonconformist female protagonist named Ruby Sparks (Kazan). At Dr. Rosenthal's urging, he begins writing about his dream girl.
Calvin is understandably is stunned when the spirited redhead magically appears in his kitchen one morning. At first he believes he is hallucinating, which he sees as a sign of a not unexpected nervous breakdown, but the novelist soon learns in rather dramatic fashion that Ruby is indeed real and he isn't the only one who can see and hear her.
The author is further baffled to discover that he can control his new love interest's actions, thoughts and attitudes with what he writes about her. “For men everywhere, you've got to take advantage of this,” declares his long-married brother. Outraged by Harry's suggestion that he force Ruby to conform to his whims and wants, Calvin turns away from his typewriter and vows not to abuse the unique creative control he has over his new lover.
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Starring: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Chris Messina, Elliott Gould, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas, Steve Coogan. (Language including some sexual references, and for some drug use)