Day #206: SOKO – “First Love Never Die”
Ruby Sparks was pretty good. It’s about a young writer (Paul Dano) who can pen bestsellers, but damned if he can find a girlfriend. It starts out with him being frustrated by inexplicable writer’s block, but eventually he finds a muse to help him out of the rut: an endearing redhead who keeps reappearing in his dreams. That’s Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan). She is his inspiration to get back to writing, as well as the central character of a new novel. A romance. He’s become so strangely smitten with her, this girl that only exists in his imagination and on paper. That is, until Ruby comes to life.
Sounds kind of like a ZZ Top music video, doesn’t it? Because that’s the ultimate male fantasy — the hapless nerd is magically able to play God with his perfect mate. But, this wasn’t like say Weird Science, where some hormone-raging teens with bras on their head use their computer create a British bombshell. Despite the element of magic (or whatever it is that brings a fictional character in a book to life), it’s more level-headed. Ruby is average-looking. She has faults. She reminded me of Zoey Dechanel’s character in 500 Days of Summer (and the two look similar, with those alluring blue eyes full of charming innocence). She’ll win a boy’s heart, but may wind up disappointing him in the end.
Ruby Sparks is brought to you by the folks behind Little Miss Sunshine. Which means that, amidst all the delight you’d expect from a modern fairytale (and sometimes modern like this, pesky realities get in the way, and so do the gut-wrenching emotions that tend to come with it. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll run for a French translator.
Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan were awesome together as Calvin (the writer) and Ruby. The two had worked together before, and were (maybe still are?) romantically linked in real life. Hence, the chemistry.
Kazan’s role was something like an improv exercise; Ruby had to be and do whatever Calvin wanted. Sometimes, that meant drastic changes in behavior within seconds. And, Dano had to play off of that. The supporting cast included an interesting mix of screen veterans: Steve Coogan, Elliot Gould, Annette Benning, and surprisingly, Antonio Banderas, the only man who could possibly make overalls look sexy.
Bottom line: go see it.