Calvin (Paul Dano), the male protagonist in “Ruby Sparks,” got hit by Neptune – the planet that oversees creativity and whatever springs from the imagination – at a young age. That visit from the trident god helped Cal write a best-selling book. He’s been bereft of any decent ideas since.
One night Cal literally dreams up a character called Ruby Sparks. He runs with his inspiration, puts her onto paper and makes her a character in what has suddenly become a flourishing daily literary output. It doesn’t take long before Ruby (Zoe Kazan, who also wrote the screenplay) turns up – magically and in the flesh – in his apartment. And low and behold, whatever Calvin “writes” her to do via his typewriter, she “does” in real life.
“Ruby Sparks” sets up a delicious tug-of-war between Neptunian fantasy and hardcore Saturnine reality. Ruby is the perfect too-good-to-be-true girlfriend – with a Neptunian psychedelic wardrobe to match – inextricably tied to Cal’s newly burgeoning stream of words. As he says, “It’s almost like I’m writing to spend time with her.” The snake in the grass is Cal’s growing awareness of – and increasing discomfort with – his own Svengali-like powers to control the outcome.
Who hasn’t pondered whether they were more infatuated with the idea of someone rather than an actual someone? “Ruby Sparks”’s delightful tidbits of magic realism don’t obscure the solid relationship themes Kazan brings to the fore. And, this being a movie, you can count on dreams (Neptune) coming true (Saturn).
Rating: ♆♄+ (Neptune/Saturn-plus)