Movie Review: Ruby Sparks

, by Janine M.

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I have mixed feelings about this movie. No I won't discuss the underlying feminist/anti-feminist themes the movie may or may not have. Just the shallower points heehee. Of course it started cutesy. What's it about? Phenomenal author of a great American novel lives a lonely life while experiencing major writer's block then gets inspired by a woman who visits him in a dream. Basically the movie started off with Calvin's (Paul Dano) reaction to seeing Ruby (Zoe Kazan) in the flesh and "out of his mind", his brother's initial disbelief and fascination upon meeting her, the start of their relationship.

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Upon coming into terms that she was "real", Calvin stopped writing about Ruby. After the visit to Calvin's mother and stepfather, the movie started to unravel the problems that arise in a normal relationship. Ruby's character fleshed out into something that Calvin had not written about, someone more real and herself, and without the use of his typewriter, Calvin did not have control over how she was feeling, what she was thinking, what her next decision would be. She began to move out of the persona Calvin had set in his mind for her to be his ideal girl. Then things started to get ugly. At first, when Calvin wrote about her again to make her revert back to his girlfriend preferences, it's presented in a light and funny manner. I do hope that when he decided to let her be, he had her welfare in mind and not because she was becoming a source of his discomfort (First attempt: he wanted her to need him so she became clingy to the point of depression at the slightest hint of his neglect. Second attempt: he wanted her to be cheerful, and she became happy and silly all the time to the point of his annoyance). I was disturbed and uncomfortable with the idea of a person having control over another's will and emotions.

I almost cried in the scene in which he showed her how he was the one creating and controlling everything that she is, everything about her. Kazan as Ruby did a great job eliciting sympathy from me. In a twisted way I pitied Calvin as well. As he was feverishly typing I could feel him being driven into madness by his own genius and his desperation to not be lonely again. That part was heavy!

He decided to set her free, and Ruby did leave. He wrote all about her in his next novel, without giving any personal information (as if there was much to give). In an attempt to make a happy ending Hollywood-style, Calvin, rather Scotty (his dog, named after F. Scott Fitzgerald), ran into, surprise...Ruby, who happened to have a copy of his latest novel. This girl he met didn't seem to have an idea who they were to each other not so long ago (I believe the time they were apart would only be a year or two at most), so I don't know if she's Ruby who had no inkling of the past and had created a new persona or if she's a real person who had just met him for the first time. I am inclined to believe it's the former. Suspension of disbelief, check. It seemed that Calvin had learned his lesson if I base it on his decision to let Ruby go and the romantic reflections he wrote in his book. So I guess all's well that ends well.

I like the movie because it touched on the nature of relationships (acceptance of a partner's flaws and thinking about his/her happiness and welfare) and the experiences writers undergo (triumph from a successful novel, suffering from writer's block, anxieties of coming up with another book to prove that he/she isn't a one-hit wonder, bursts of inspiration, sleepless nights of continuous writing). Despite the dark themes and the audience-pleasing conclusion, I enjoyed watching it.

As the credits rolled, I couldn't help thinking how true it is that before one can love another person, he must love himself first. Also, that love should not be imposed or forced to serve one's selfish ends. And that the perfect partner does not exist, only one who is willing to compromise, to share his/her life with you, and to make you happy. 

Rating: ★★★★

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