Cast: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan
Writer: Zoe Kazan
Director: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Farris
*** and 1/2*s out of four
What would you do if you had the talent to create a living, breathing person out of thin air? Would you keep that person the way they are, or would you tweak a few things about them? That is the basic set-up for this movie and it's much smarter than its premise. A wonderful, sharp witted, and entertaining story, its only major flaw is the very last minute, but it's such a minute issue, it shouldn't stop you from seeing this movie.
Calvin Fields (Paul Dano) is a young writer who, at the age of 17, wrote the great American novel. Now, ten years later, he can't get another book off and running, or have any complete ideas in his head. The only thing he can think of is a dream woman he created, named Ruby Sparks. The dreams become so vivid that he begins to write about her whole life and where she grew up. I mean, this guy has her whole entire back story written with such great detail he even mentions past partners she has had sex with. One morning, Calvin wakes up to see Ruby (Zoe Kazan) in his kitchen for real. At first he feels like he is losing his mind, but when other people begin seeing her too, Calvin can't believe how lucky he is. He even discovers that when he adds something new to her story it becomes true in real life
I'm glad this movie doesn't offer any explanation as to why she just appeared, because that is not the main focus of this movie. The main moral question that is being asked is- Would you change someone's personality if you were able to? We have all been in relationships before where the other person is wonderful, but if only you could change just one thing about their behavior, they would be perfect. Calvin at first feels that he has found a perfect girlfriend, but when Ruby wants to spend more time with her friends than with him, he feels threatened and writes something to make her want to come back. Each time he changes something about her it starts off great, but quickly turns bad and it's a snowballing effect that can't be stopped.
Watching the trailer I did not have high hopes for this movie. It looked like another one of those movies where a pretty pixie girl changes the life of some nerd shut-in. I'm glad this movie doesn't go heavily into that territory, but it does delve in there just a tad. This is a very "Twilight Zone"-ish fable about the consequences of wanting to change someone's personality.
The whole cast is really good, including Annette Benning and Antonio Banderas as Calvin's hippie parents. Plus, Chris Messina is really good as the doubtful brother. Paul Dano shows that he can play the lead roles in movies and I like his character in this. Never once when watching this did I feel bad for him or hate the choices he made. It's only after I saw what the effects were that I felt guilty. Zoe Kazan is an actress who has been around for a while, but to be honest with you, I don't remember her from other movies. While she is very good in this movie, the most impressive thing about her is her screenwriting ability. I want to see what other stories she comes up with, because she is very good at it.