Ruby Sparks, written by and co-starring Zoe Kazan in the title role, asks for less and gets away with more.
Geeky, introverted writer Calvin (Dano) has spent years reading from his first novel whilst struggling to start a second. His psychiatrist suggests a test run: a short piece on somebody who loves his annoying dog. Calvin comes up with Ruby (Kazan), who soon comes bouncing to life and into his arms: endearing, and subject to his every literal whim. Will Calvin appropriate time and write himself a rosy but warped future with a marionette sidekick or allow Ruby the freedom of real choices in an uncertain present?
There comes a point at which whim turns into whimsy as both script and story lack the feminist bite that gave Shaw’s antecedent Pygmalion depth and context. But strong character performances by Dano and Kazan help Ruby Sparks pull off its tangential time-bending, achieving a synthesis of authenticity and fancy that feels oddly real.
Ruby Sparks | Directed by Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris (USA 2012) with Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan. Starts November 29