Ruby Sparks: She’s Out of His Mind (2012)

Posted: April 6, 2013 in Comedy, Fantasy, Romance
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ruby-sparks-posterThough once more famous for his novel, Calvin is searching for that next great idea. Still somewhat riding on the laurels of his success at age 19, his confidence is low and he is either spending time with his brother or his therapist. Given the task of attempting to think about his social interactions, he awakens one night with a burst of ideas. His dreams had recently been filled with images of an unknown beauty and he had to get her story on paper. Using the therapy assignment as motivation, he did not seem to notice or pay much attention to the random array of women’s items appearing around his house. One morning when he was ready to rush off to meet his agent, he discovers that the women he had been writing about was actually in his house and cooking him breakfast. He realizes that his words and typewriter brought her into reality and that he had a control over her that was more powerful than he had even begun to realize.

Starring: Paul Dano (Calvin Weir-Fields), Zoe Kazan (Ruby Tiffany Sparks), Annette Bening (Gertrude), Antonio Banderas (Mort), Steve Coogan (Langdon Tharp), Elliott Gould (Dr. Rosenthal), Chris Messina (Harry), Deborah Ann Woll (Lila), Aasfi Mandvi (Cyrus Modi), Alla Shawkat (Mabel)

Cycling through periods of confidence and control, Paul Dano is an interesting performer and lead for this story. Zoe Kazan is an even more impressive specimen of acting. Her character struggles with experiencing the life documented by Dano’s character and only learns about her existence near the end. While Bening, Banderas and Gould were nice additions to the cast, Messina provides the necessary support as the brother to help guide some of the conflict Dano’s character tries to resolve.

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Kazan actually served as the writer of this film and took on an interesting role of writing her lead character’s story of controlling the character she played. Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris looked to adapt and direct the controversy of creating and controlling another person. The sudden realization of the power of his writing threw Calvin into a bit of madness until he could prove that Ruby was really there. She seemed completely unaware of her lack of existence prior to the day she and Calvin discovered each other, yet she still had real world elements immediately in place. Though their relationship was perfect at the beginning, Calvin’s initial expectations were lost in his realization that there is life beyond the honeymoon period. As he realized that Ruby was not happy with just spending time with him, Calvin’s jealously and control started to take over and threaten to drag him down a spiral of distress and confusion.

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The concept of this movie may be a little out there, but the symbolism is rather complex. Calvin struggles from not knowing how to deal with success or with maintaining interpersonal relationships. The fame he received at 19 skewed his perception of how to connect with others, which led to him having zero friends other than his brother. Ruby’s arrival gave him someone and something to look forward to but only as long as he maintained his perfect image and control over their relationship. The fact that he realized that he had the ability to control her was too much to resist once their relationship started to hit rocky grounds. When he encountered his former girlfriend at the house party, it solidified all of the elements he wanted to eliminate in Ruby, though it went too far to the extreme. It took him going mad with power to realize that life is uncontrollable.

There are some mystical elements that are never fully explained, but this is the next best romantic comedy/fantasy since 500 Days of Summer.

Dan’s Rating: 3.5/5

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