Throughout the clever, complex, humorous, and surprisingly dark film that was Ruby Sparks, it felt like some sort of omniscient godlike force was guiding the characters and the action, rather than that a screenwriter just sat down and penned the script.
I only learned afterwards that force was the film’s star, Zoe Kazan.
Ruby Sparks was the epitome of meta, a movie with characters that have been written by the woman playing one of the characters about a man who quite literally creates his dream girl through writing. And it worked, thanks to the immense talent of Zoe Kazan.
At the end of the movie, main character Calvin Harris (Kazan’s real life boyfriend, Paul Dano) said, “In the luckiest, happiest state the words come through you, not from you. She came to me wholly herself, I was just lucky enough to be there to catch her.”
From a writerly perspective, you can tell this girl just gets the joke, in every sense of the phrase.
Throughout the film, you get an underlying sense of subtle jabs at modern romantic comedies, oftentimes men writing women that seem unrealistic, the writers’ dream women that don’t actually exist in real life. When Calvin first shows his brother Harry (Chris Messina) the beginnings of his manuscript on Ruby, Harry says it doesn’t feel real.
“I love Christie [his wife], but she’s mean as fuck for no reason sometimes,” he says. “You haven’t written a person, you’ve written a girl.”
So Kazan plays on that — along with the very obvious theme of control in relationships — by writing a movie about a a man who literally writes his dream girl into existence. It’s brilliant. Kazan gets it.
The only other film I’ve ever seen Zoe Kazan in is the Josh Radnor-written indie rom-com happythankyoumoreplease, which I happened to love, despite an average reception by critics. This time around, she not only steals the show, but created it. I was consistently marveling at how perfectly ethereal and dream-like Zoe played Ruby, a fictionalized version of what a man thinks his dream girl should be, without it feeling like she was playing a character at all.