Wouldn’t it be fabulous to have a partner who’s exactly what you dreamed of …. totally perfect in every way – just as if you’d designed them yourself …?
As a young writer, Calvin Weir-Fields (played by Paul Dano) has already experienced huge national notoriety for his first novel, but he’s now stuck in a bad period of writer’s block. No matter what he tries, he just can’t seem to get his creative juices flowing again. His brother Harry (by Chris Messina) is a really good friend – they spend a lot of time together and support each other no matter what. Harry says Calvin should just keep at it and the next novel will come naturally. Similarly, Calvin’s therapist, Doctor Rosenthal (by Elliot Gould) who’s great too, says the next one will be not far away and not to give up. Calvin’s been seeing Dr Rosenthal for a few years and he’s always a good sounding board for his concerns – he’s helped him through a few rough patches. But even with all this good advice, things just stay the same. One night, Calvin dreams of the most fascinating girl – she’s cute, quirky, artistic, intriguing and … well … perfect. Her image plays on Calvin’s mind and he confides in both Harry and Dr Rosenthal about her. They each advise him to use the inspiration he gets from her to start his writing process. So he sits down at his typewriter and begins to describe her. His writing comes quickly and easily – he’s spurred on by his wonderful thoughts of her and the words just spill out of him onto the page. How fantastic – he’s writing again! That evening, she comes to Calvin in a dream once again – and she does exactly what Calvin described when he was writing today … weird? The next day, Calvin can write more, so he develops a background and personality for the girl – this work is really going well! But after this she doesn’t appear in a dream to Calvin – she appears in his life. She’s Ruby Sparks (by Zoe Kazan) – she’s beautiful, she’s amazing .. and she’s in his house!. Calvin freaks out – convinced he’s hallucinating, he tries to put her out of his mind, but when he realizes she’s real, he’s overcome with love for this curious girl, who came from who knows where … but who cares? They start a fabulous romance and everything is just perfect … just the way Calvin wants it to be. Then full realisation hits him – it must be perfect because Calvin’s writing it first, then it’s happening … can that be true? But wait – even if it’s true there’s no problem is there? – everyone’s happy, nobody’s getting hurt … things can just go on like this, can’t they? …
This is a curious movie. On the one hand, it’s a quirky romantic comedy – a slightly weirdo guy meets a zany girl, they fall in love and have a perfect romance but hit a roadblock – trouble ensues and everyone hopes things turn out in the end. Just as rom-coms should be. But on the other hand, if you allow it to it will take your thoughts to some provocative issues about relationships – control of your partner, the value of spontaneity, the relevance of honesty and the need for companionship. It’s interesting in that way. In one sense, I did find Calvin irritating in that he obviously has sufficient intellect and insight to write the “great American novel” but then as soon as he meets Ruby he becomes so dependent on her he’s unable to survive without her – aarrggh! The movie has real gems too – Steve Coogan is perfectly cast, he plays Langdon Tharp to a tee; and two wonderful cameos are from Annette Bening who plays Calvin’s mother Gertrude and Antonio Banderas is her new partner, Mort – they are living an alternative lifestyle together at Big Sur. These two are such fun and marvellous as this off-beat couple. The movie gets a bit “supernatural” as it draws to its climax, but that is done well and is appropriate for the story. The ending reverts back to true rom-com style though. I found it an interesting and quite nice movie. I’d like to see both Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan in more movies, they will surely do well.
Made in 2012. Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris.