I haven’t entirely decided what the focus of this blog is yet. I know I’m supposed to write about movies but that’s sort of like telling someone they’re supposed to earn money. How? The options are endless. I could write top 10 lists, I could write reviews, or I could rant and rave about directorial talent, acting prowess, or brilliant cinematography. The options are endless, which makes figuring out where to start rather difficult.
I decided to ask myself why I agreed to write this blog in the first place. The simplest most honest answer is that I just love movies. I love watching them, discussing them, and sometimes even taking a haphazard shot at making them; that’s why I wanted to write this. It’s a great opportunity to share that passion with anyone who might feel the same way. Hopefully I’ll spark a few good conversations and learn a thing or twelve while I stumble my way through this new experiment. Fingers crossed I won’t embarrass myself any more than absolutely necessary, but I’m not making any promises.
So with that in mind I figured I’d start with a recommendation. To take this first shining opportunity to suggest a movie for your next evening off, date night, or excuse to take a break from studying for a while [see: procrastination]. A favourite of mine that I hope you’ll enjoy as much as I do.
I chose Ruby Sparks for a number of reasons not the least of which is that it’s currently available on Netflix. It’s also one of the best independent romantic comedies I’ve ever seen.
The film was directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris and shares a similar atmosphere to the duos breakout hit Little Miss Sunshine. Paul Dano returns to play Calvin Weir-Fields, a somewhat neurotic writer and former child prodigy who is trying to avoid his status as a one-hit wonder. Upon the recommendation of his therapist, he begins writing a character- Ruby Sparks- who could love him for all of his idiosyncrasies. Imagine his surprise when one morning she’s cooking breakfast in his kitchen.
Zoe Kazan who is also the film’s writer plays Ruby Sparks, the typical quirky upbeat love interest of every indie movie since Woody Allen got hold of a camera. This is to be expected however since Calvin, who has his own Allen-like nervousness about him, wrote her into existence.
On the surface the concept seems absurd but the film uses it sparingly to underwrite the real story of relationships and love and all of its stages. It uses the plot device to illustrate how even when given the opportunity to fully create your ideal partner, it does nothing to combat your own insecurities. Ruby Sparks brings home the age-old saying “To love others you must first love yourself” in a new and interesting way.
Certain climactic moments demand a lot of Dano and Kazan and they certainly rise to the task. The film is also punctuated with hilarious scenes in which Calvin and his brother Harry (played by Chris Messina) continuously attempt to make sense of the situation and the ethical dilemmas that lie therein. The film is clever, and touching, and funny through and through.
Ruby Sparks is Zoe Kazan’s only writing credit, which ironically places her in a position not unlike Dano’s character in the movie. I can only hope she avoids her one-hit wonder status as well.