Film review: Ruby Sparks (5 out of 5 stars)

Ruby Sparks with Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan.
Ruby Sparks with Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan.

I can safely say I never thought I would ever give what could be described as a ‘rom-com’ top marks.

However, it’s like saying Prometheus is a sci-fi movie or Schindler’s List is a war film.

Placing a movie into a convenient genre often doesn’t do it justice and can dissuade people from handing over hard-earned cash to watch it.

True, Ruby Sparks is about a love affair and relationships but uses a cleverly bizarre scenario to analyse what we expect from our partners.

The two main characters are played by Paul Dano (Calvin Weir-Fields) and Zoe Kazan (Ruby) and it is largely down to their skill that this film is so good.

Dano, barely recognisable from his part in Looper, is called on to express various extremes of emotion which he does perfectly.

Kazan not only provides the same degrees of acting ability but also wrote the screenplay.

It’s in the blood as various members of her family have penned ‘On the Waterfront’ (grandfather), ‘Benjamin Button’ (mother) and ‘Reversal of Fortune’ (father).

She may have a lot to live up to but Ruby Sparks is one heck of a start.

The plot sees Calvin, a gifted young novelist who is suffering from writer’s block.

However, he dreams up (literally) the idea of a story involving a girl called Ruby Sparks, and puts pen to paper.

Not suprisingly, when she suddenly appears in his apartment one morning he questions his sanity.

It could so easily have turned into a lame, corny comedy and although there are some very funny moments, there are also serious questions asked.

If you could create a partner, leaving aside the physical aspect, what would she/he be like? Would you make her/him ‘normal’?

Directing team Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris deserve great credit for keeping the focus on the main pair while handling a strong supporting cast.

Steve Coogan, Annette Benning, Antonio Banderas and Eliott Gould all seem happy to play second fiddle to Dano and Kazan.

It’s sad that this exceptional film seems to have been largely ignored, possibly overwhelmed by the hype preceding the new Bond movie.

But if you want to enjoy some top class actors being directed well with a satisfying and touching script then check out Ruby Sparks.

The 15 certificate is down to the occasional strong language and some drug use.

Movie details: Ruby Sparks (15) 104mins

Directors: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris

Starring: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Chris Messina, Eliott Gould

Steve Payne

Screening courtesy of Cineworld Crawley