Ruby Sparks Blu-ray Review
The man on the therapist couch, clutching a stuffed bear, is Calvin Weir-Fields. He had a hit novel at 19, but has had nothing but writer’s block since.
Then, when she’s needed most, The Muse–Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan, who also wrote the screenplay)–strikes, and later that night, Calvin (Paul Dano) is hammering away at his typewriter.
Turns out, Ruby is a little real and a little imaginary. She’s real, in that she leaves her bra on Calvin’s couch and whisks eggs for breakfast in his kitchen. Yet, she’s also a creation, in that Calvin can manipulate her everything. She crushes on Bogart and Lennon, just as Calvin would want a girl to. She eats fast food, just as Calvin would want a girl to. She loves zombie movies, arcades and clubs, just as Calvin would want a girl to do.
How is this at all possible? It doesn’t matter. Think of Woody Allen’s THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO, where Jeff Daniel’s character in the movie-within-a-movie jumped off the screen to romance the picture’s biggest fan, played by Mia Farrow. (Like Farrow’s Cecilia, Calvin quickly and madly falls in love; unlike Daniels’ Tom Baxter, Ruby is unaware of her own back story.)
This sets up an interesting dynamic for the film that helps make it one of the more clever and inventive romantic dramedies in recent years. There is a moment when Calvin decides to never write about Ruby (that is, control her) again. This act of liberation opens the floodgates for the jealousy and flaws that can plague any real relationship. Then, what if she starts crying? Should he write a sentence that makes her smile and pounce on the bed? What sort of state would that leave her emotions in?
RUBY SPARKS, directed by LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE’s duo of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, has as much to do with the successes and failures of romance as it does the struggles and arrogance of writing. It is well-written and smart. What’s most enjoyable, though, is how it lacks the token and now-state quirkiness that made LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE a Sundance and Oscar hit.
RUBY SPARKS was and will be neither. But it should put Zoe Kazan out there even more and prove Paul Dano can headline a movie. Not once does Kazan try to play it like Zooey Deschanel (and so many imitators) would, and not once is Dano over shadowed by the impressive cast of Annette Bening (as his mother), Antonio Banderas (his father), Elliott Gould (his therapist), or Steve Coogan (a fellow novelist).
Video: 1.85:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. Although there is nothing noticeably impressive about the visuals of RUBY SPARKS, this Blu-ray presents excellent clarity and proper tones throughout.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1. RUBY SPARKS is primarily dialogue-driven, so it’s important that the conversations be clear and audible. Fans will be happy this is the case, with every line (including those in voiceovers) coming through clean and with no detectable problems.
The Story (4:07) gives an overview of the story and characters of RUBY SPARKS.
The Cast (3:39) pays tribute to the cast, including Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Annette Bening, and Antonio Banderas.
Real Life Couples (2:56) looks at the relationships of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, and Dano and Kazan.
Be Careful What You Wish For (3:47) looks at the fantasy element and character relations in RUBY SPARKS.
Los Angeles: The Other Character (3:12): Here, cast and crew touch on the city’s role in the movie.