by Joanna Orland
Paul Dano plays Calvin, a young novelist struggling to write a follow up to his hugely successful first novel. Dealing with anxiety, loneliness and depression, Calvin regularly visits his therapist (Elliott Gould) to help him better integrate into society and perhaps one day write again. Calvin starts having dreamlike fantasies of a girl named Ruby, and his therapist suggests he start writing these down. Calvin does, and finds that he’s fallen in love with his own character.
From the directors of one of the biggest indie hits in recent years, Little Miss Sunshine, Ruby Sparks has the same indie charm, and even one of the same stars as LMS. Yes, that is why Paul Dano looks so familiar – it’s LMS’s brother Dwayne! The plot may seem a bit forced and silly at times, but it’s done in such a down to earth, non-pretentious way, you can’t help but love this film for not trying to be anything more than it is; a romantic comedy, character study, and commentary on relationships and male egos.
Don’t let the idea of this film put you off. It has every potential to be a pretentious, self-indulgent and privileged piece of indie cinema. Zoe Kazan is likely one of the most off-putting ideas of this film. The writer and star was born into being privileged, as the granddaughter of legendary director Elia Kazan, and as a direct descendant of the founders of Yale University. In spite of her never having to work hard to get where she is, she pulls off screenwriting and acting with a natural ability you want to hate her for. But you don’t, because this film is so darn likeable.