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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Paul Dano
Antonio Banderas
Annette Bening
Steve Coogan
Elliott Gould
zoe kazan.
Directors
Jonathan Dayton
Valerie Faris.
Screenwriters
Running Time
104 minutes

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Ruby Sparks
Dream Girl, Interrupted


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Plot
Blocked author Calvin (Dano) dreams of a girl named Ruby (Kazan), and when he writes about her she comes to life, exactly as he described her. But having literally met the girl of his dreams, how long before he tires of the quirks and foibles he created?


Review
Ruby Sparks
It's not uncommon for struggling actors to write a screenplay giving themselves a plum role, but the results are rarely as successful as this startlingly assured first feature script by actress Zoe Kazan, brought winningly to life by the directors of Little Miss Sunshine. It’s as though ’70s-era Woody Allen wrote a feature-length adap of The Twilight Zone episode A World Of His Own.

Although Paul Dano is few people’s idea of a romantic lead, he is well cast as Calvin, a neurotic intellectual who topped the New York Times bestseller list at the age of 19, and has been struggling with the literary equivalent of Difficult Second Album Syndrome ever since. Given a therapeutic writing task by his analyst (Elliott Gould), Calvin writes about a girl he has dreamed of meeting, only to find her living in his apartment, calling herself his girlfriend and inviting him to all-night zombie-movie marathons.

After a highly enjoyable bit of business, in which Calvin and his brother (Chris Messina) attempt to find out whether this figment of his imagination is really real, Calvin introduces Ruby to the other people in his life: his agent (a particularly louche Steve Coogan), his hippy mom (Annette Bening) and sculptor stepdad (Antonio Banderas). At this point, the film slides smoothly into more familiar rom-com territory, albeit loaded with metaphor about our constant need to modify the people we fall in love with.

Happily Ruby Sparks has a pay-off worthy of its set-up, even if it wraps up a little too neatly — and sweetly. It’s a pity, too, that when the story takes a turn for the twisted, Kazan pulls her punches, coyly loading the premise’s darker possibilities into a single scene. Such choices, however, can only enhance the commercial prospects of what may just be the sharpest and funniest indie romance since (500) Days Of Summer.


Verdict
Six years after Little Miss Sunshine, Dayton and Faris deliver a comedy that sparkles with wit and substance. But from the script to her portrayal of the title character, Ruby Sparks belongs to Zoe Kazan, who joins the likes of Sarah Polley and Brit Marling in the rarified ranks of actress/screenwriter double-threats.


Reviewed by David Hughes

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Ruby Sparks
Empire Star Rating

Disappointing female characters

Although billed as a comedy (the poster and trailer tell us this is another kooky comedy from the directors of Little Miss Sunshine) this film is not as easy to categorise as all that. The first half, when Ruby turns up and Calvin has to come to terms with the fact that he has magical writing skills (or a magical typewriter - it's never made clear how this has happened), is gently amusing. However it then turns pretty dark as we realise Calvin has control issues in relationships and unwisely att... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Buttercup87 at 13:29, 18 October 2012 | Report This Post


Sweet and thought provoking

I thought the premise was very clever and I actually wanted it to turn darker than it became. Dano is brilliant, you just believe his character and inner demons from the start. Kazan is good but there is a touch too much Zooey Deschanel in her performance. Elliott Gould was underused. The relationship between Dano and Gould was cool and I would have liked to have seen the darker sides of Dano's psyche come to the foreground as he tackles his demons with reality and fantasy. I think that the scri... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Nefruaten at 18:43, 16 October 2012 | Report This Post


loved it

playfully done & well acted. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 00:39, 15 October 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Ruby Sparks

Truly enjoyed it, very witty and funny but also veered into a pretty dark place towards the end... Zoe Kazan is a talent to watch for sure, and a new crush ight go with a 4/5 but more likely a 5 for me ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by DJ Rob C: Mark II! at 08:05, 14 October 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Ruby Sparks

I'll need some time to fully assess it, but by the end of the year this will most certainly rank amongst my favourites of the year. ... More

Posted by thedrin at 16:43, 13 October 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Ruby Sparks

A stunning little indie rom-com sitting somewhere between Adaptation, (500) Days Of Summer and classic Woody Allen (and even a slight detour in Secretary style darkness). Having watched this 'Liberal Arts' and 'The Perks Of Being A Wallflower' all in the space of three days I can say that this stands out mainly due to the lead "hero" never becoming a dickish annoyance and the dialogue steering well clear of the Dawson Creek pretentious-ness that bogs down other movies in the sub-genre. My secon... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ChudMonkey at 22:17, 12 October 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Ruby Sparks

yep cute & funny in parts but mostly irritating ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by radar670 at 13:59, 12 October 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Ruby Sparks

This looks slightly irritating. ... More

Posted by hatebox at 11:11, 10 October 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Ruby Sparks

Ruby Sparks isn't the chucklefest the trailer might suggest, but it's all the stronger for that. It's difficult to define what's subtext when the story is entirely i] subtext, and the line between fantasy and reality is so blurred that I applaud the screenplay's (and the characters') refusal to rationalise or explain away the surreal events that unfold. Kooky, but without taking it to Deschanel-levels. I approve wholeheartedly. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheMightyBlackout at 00:22, 10 October 2012 | Report This Post


Ruby Fizzles

Yet another over rated review for a below average film from Empire. When will it end? Fair enough these films aren't normally my cup of tea but the girlfriend enjoys them. But even she came out disappointed in this poor piece of film making. If it wasn't for the fact we were stuck in the middle of a full row we would've quite happily walked out. Safe to say I get to choose the films we see from now on tho :D ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by J_BUltimatum at 13:18, 08 October 2012 | Report This Post


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