- Director:Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
- Cast:Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening, Paul Dano, Deborah Ann Woll
- Release Date:September 20, 2012
- Distributor:20th Century Fox
- Running time:115 minutes
- Film Worth:$18.00
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
Layered with smarts, charm and originality, but also packing a hefty emotional punch, this has all the hallmarks of an indie classic.
It’s been six years since directors, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, served up Little Miss Sunshine, and the duo’s long-awaited follow-up hits that same sweet spot between offbeat charm and genuine emotion. But the real star behind the piece is Zoe Kazan, who penned the inventive screenplay, and stars alongside her real-life partner, Paul Dano. The latter plays Calvin, a frustrated novelist who hasn’t been able to produce another meaningful work since his lauded debut as a teen genius. Reluctantly given a writing assignment by his therapist, Calvin dreams up a muse in the form of the bubbly Ruby (Kazan), who materialises in his kitchen one morning. Calvin’s disbelief quickly gives way to delight until his dream girl reveals an independent side that he never penned.
In describing Ruby Sparks, it’s difficult to sidestep words like “delightful” and “whimsical”, because those qualities are present in spades, but once the fantasy premise is set up, Dano and Kazan descend into dark, grim – even occasionally wrenching – territory. And the film makes incisive observations regarding the frustrating and heartbreaking pressures of attempting to live up to the expectations of a partner. They may not be new notions, but this film smartly deconstructs the basics – in terms of themes and genre conventions – and pulls them back together in a thought-provoking way.
Backed by a stellar supporting cast (including Annette Bening as Calvin’s free-spirited mother, and Antonio Banderas as her artist lover), the two leads are terrific, with Dano revealing all the thorny sides to Calvin’s complex ego, and Kazan a small wonder as Ruby. In the vein of such endearing but emotionally bruising works as Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind and  Days Of Summer, Ruby Sparks is this year’s indie classic.