Whilst I attempt to keep up appearances as a chap of meaty, man-size proportions, I tragically have a dirty, sordid secret. One that if known would wipe all remnants of my masculinity away in one foul swoop. I am not speaking of a concealed vagina nor a third nipple (that has long since gone) but I do have a soft and tickly spot for something no man should really ever claim to have.
That vice is the romantic comedy.
Whoa there sport! I’m not talking gloopy sugar-fests like ‘Love Actually’ or ‘The Notebook’, so please lower those furrowed brows. My kind of romantic comedies, or I should say romantic dramas, have a twitching brain and an ability to spark genuine thought and post-film pondering. To give you a scent of what I dig, my ‘rom-com-dram’ favourites range from ‘Vanilla Sky’, ‘Knocked Up’, ‘The Five-Year Engagement’ to today’s reviewed movie-film, ‘Ruby Sparks’.
“Ruby what?!” You yell, and you may have a point, but please stop yelling, your voice is whiny and annoying.
Released this year, ‘Ruby Sparks’ stealthily slipped under the prying eyes of the masses and was subject to a very selected release in the UK which was reflected in meagre box office performance. But, don’t let that stop you from checking this one out because ‘Ruby Sparks’ is a stone cold fox of a release. I skipped in with fairly muted expectations on a wet Thursday afternoon but waltzed out a jaunty and exultant young man after witnessing a movie that jockeyed position to take number three on my top five flicks of 2012. (Skipped, waltzed and jockeyed – maybe I should be concerned).
‘Ruby Sparks’ is the tale of a young writer-type, Calvin (Paul Dano), who is struggling with chronic writers block. Crumpling under the weight of his early but now waning success after writing a bestseller at the precocious age of 19, Calvin has been unable to finish a novel since. His life is one of mundane routine and he deeply craves the love of another woman. Calvin, after a dream whereupon he meets a young girl, begins to write a story based on the female. To his amazement, the female then becomes real. Her every thought and move mirroring the words that Calvin types.
You would be excused to think it all sounds massively hokey and a bit like a 2012 re-imagining of ‘Mannequin’ but you would be bloody wrong as this a very smart and original film. Chiefly, this is testament to a script that is punchy, original and smacks of reality. To achieve this is impressive considering the premise of the story being so unbelievable. I sympathised with Calvin and wanted him to find a woman who satisfied his wants and aspirations but similarly I felt for Ruby who was essentially being manipulated and bent to his will.
Thankfully, Ruby’s character isn’t written as an irritating ‘Juno’ type pixie girl either, and this benefits the story. As Calvin is effectively creating his dream spouse it is hard to not empathise as their relationship inevitably descends in to chaos. She is blameless throughout yet punished when she does not abide to Calvin’s preconceived notions of what he wants the relationship to be. This could easily have been ham fisted in its approach and Ruby, in the wrong hands, would have been a massively annoying twerp.
The early sparks of love are translated perfectly as Calvin’s life immeasurably improves the more that Ruby (Zoe Kazan) bleeds into it. There are definite echoes of 500 Days of Summer in the light but tragic style in which the narrative is delivered.
Paul Dano is brilliant as the young writer and convincingly portrays a fragile but talented scribe, so much so that I intend to watch a few more of his canon. Zoe Kazan, as Ruby is not at all irritating and kooky and cute enough to make Calvin’s love for her seem plausible. There is notable support in the shape of Steve Coogan, Annette Benning and Antonio Banderas.
Furthermore, The Ross Report is changing formats to three days a week. Circumstances dictate that I must pull back a little, so please bear with me and keep on reading, its massively appreciated.