MIFF 2012 Part Three: Ruby Sparks

Ruby Sparks
Saturday 11th August, 6:30pm

>> MILD TO MEDIUM SPOILER ALERT.

Ruby Sparks is exactly the kind of film that makes me feel inadequate as a writer.  It takes such an elegantly simple concept – what would happen if one of your characters literally came to life? – and executes it brilliantly, without pretension or cliche.

The film explores the trope of the manic pixie dream girl for what it actually is: a male creation that cannot exist outside of his world.  When Ruby, Calvin’s creation, starts to make friends outside of his world, and starts to have her own life, he just writes her return.  Because the perfect manic pixie dream girl exists purely for the male protagonist’s pleasure; she uses her quirky charm to cure him of whatever haunts his mind.  This is where Ruby Sparks is different.  Through Calvin’s attempts to control his fictional girlfriend, the film proves that the true manic pixie dream girl concept cannot really exist in this state.

It is both encouraging and a little heartbreaking that such an excellent film was written by someone so young.  Zoe Kazan is not only a successful 28 year-old screenwriter – she’s also a convincing actress who gave an excellent performance as the female lead.  Her acting and writing abilities were showcased especially during the film’s darkest moment; when Ruby tries to leave, but is physically trapped.  Crawling on all fours, speaking French, howling like a dog, all with tears in her eyes – it’s a very emotional and disturbing scene that really highlights all that is brilliant about this film.

Ruby Sparks combines humour and sadness in a way that all films should.  Steve Coogan provides some obligatory British sleaze, and for an added bonus, the majority of the soundtrack consists of French language pop songs.  Ruby Sparks is adorable without being twee, and I would highly recommend that you see it when it returns to Australian cinemas later in the year.

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