Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Movie with Abe: Ruby Sparks

Ruby Sparks
Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Released July 25, 2012

Writer and star Zoe Kazan discusses the film

The directors of “Little Miss Sunshine” are back with an equally charming story full of colorful characters. In this endearing film that directing duo and married couple Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris termed a “funny genre-bender” rather than a romantic comedy, young author Calvin (Paul Dano) brings to life the main character of his new novel, Ruby (Zoe Kazan). While it may sound like 2006’s “Stranger Than Fiction,” this film focuses more on the writer-character relationship and how they grow to accept the peculiar situation in which they find themselves. It’s a wonderful, highly engaging journey that manages to dip deep into these characters and come out the other side with something meaningful.

Directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris discuss the film

Dayton and Faris aren’t the only couple involved in this film. Dano and Kazan are also real-life boyfriend and girlfriend who have worked together previously with positive results. Kazan wrote the script for “Ruby Sparks,” and, according to both partners, Dano became involved when he read the script and assumed that she was writing it for the two of them. Dayton and Faris described working with a couple in front of the camera as advantageous because they were both so committed to the material and so trusting with each other, and also shared an amusing anecdote about having to cut out pet names used by Dano and Kazan for each other that had found their way into the script so that Calvin and Ruby could be their own characters.

Star Paul Dano discusses the film

Dano, who had a memorable part in “Little Miss Sunshine,” portrays Calvin as a loner who doesn’t welcome the attention that writing a popular novel at a young age has garnered him, whose only friend is his brother Harry (Chris Messina) and would gladly spend all day inside with his newfound girlfriend. In many ways, it’s the most normal performance Dano has given thus far in his career. Kazan, who had the lead role in the small independent film “The Exploding Girl” several years ago, is simply marvelous as the alluring and sweet invention of Calvin’s imagination. Messina, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas, Alia Shawkat, and Elliott Gould complete a fantastic ensemble, and it seems like they’re all having a blast. The writing is astute and clever, and it’s clear that Kazan has invested a lot in this character that she has created. Like “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Ruby Sparks” is a pleasant and affecting comedy that incorporates its more dramatic moments with grace and respect.


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