Often we have this image on our heads about the perfect person we want to be with. Me, for example, would love to have a significant other who is into movies as much as I am, has a great sense of humor, who is protective, caring, kind, and also plays music. Sounds too much to ask, indeed. Nobody’s perfect. And even if we find that one person who seems to fit into our entire criteria, there is no guarantee that they will have the same feeling in mind. It happens – it’s real life. And so we move on.
But what if we can will that person into existence?
In Ruby Sparks (2012), the often underrated but actually fanciful Paul Dano plays Calvin, a twenty-something writer who is facing a gigantic writer’s block for his second novel after previously thriving with his first. People dub him the ‘genius’, the term that he grew uncomfortable with as the time passes because he doesn’t feel like he’s living up to the hype. A sentiment that, to be honest, shared by yours truly. His days feel empty and meaningless without so much as a drop of inspiration, and while his agent keeps rushing him to create another masterpiece, Calvin found it impossible to even craft a sentence. Until his therapist asked him to write something about his dog, Scotty – an adorable but quite pathetic creature that to me mirrors his owner himself. The dog proves to provide a gateway into something, or rather someone, who changes his life forever.
When he started writing about a girl named Ruby Sparks and giving her a detailed backstory, Calvin once again found his writing passion. He began endlessly writes and dreams and writes about her – this one person that is just the perfect girl for him. Understandable, because who in the world hasn’t made their writing works as a means of escape from reality? But then Ruby comes to life. She just magically appears one day in Calvin’s house, completely herself the way he has ever imagined him to be. And the best thing is – she already is his girlfriend.
After some period of maniacal panic and convincing himself that Ruby is indeed not a figment of his imaginations through some hilarious means of proving, Calvin accepted the awesome occurrence like anyone would embrace someone who is everything they have ever dreamed about. He was head over heels, and for some time, his life is perfect.
Then their relationship started to get more real. Ruby started to act more like a normal person, with wants and needs that Calvin couldn’t control. But Calvin knew that he holds power over of their relationship, literally. When something just isn’t the way he likes it to be, he simply writes Ruby the way he wants her to be. He scrambled to maintain perfection again, up into the point of desperation, until eventually he realized that some things are just not meant to be. Only then did he let Ruby go be herself; no longer a character on his story, no longer someone he wrote and dreamed up about, but a person by herself.
Watching Ruby Sparks does make one wonder about her own image of perfection. About endless what ifs and whys. It is not that deep of a movie, but it’s the simplicity that really hits home. How frequent are we hoping that this person we have been yearning for can walk into our lives in the flesh and make our dreams come true? When it happens… you won’t be questioning yourself. You will be just like Calvin who says “I don’t need to make sense of this. I don’t care if there’s no good explanation.” You won’t be needing justification for the things that make you happy.
But then, have you ever actually thought how would the end turn out? Would the happiness last? When my Ruby starting to be a person and not merely my own creation, can I accept it?
Happiness isn’t defined by how you picture it to be. Happiness is embracing the reality and making the most of it. After Ruby left, Calvin gets on with his life, publishes his next book that is entirely based on his experience with Ruby. That’s making do with life and making your own happiness. But in the end, the film still offers the romantic minds with the probably most-desired finale, by reuniting Calvin with Ruby once again in a different circumstance. A choice I actually not too fond of despite being a sucker for happy endings – because sometimes it is necessary for me to look at things more realistically. I would have preferred Calvin to perhaps find somebody new and build his life afresh – because that would be a more realistic notion I’d give myself.
Nevertheless, Ruby Sparks was executed in the right portion and taste without having to give too much icing on the cake. I have always had a soft spot for Paul Dano since The Girl Next Door and favored his performance in Little Miss Sunshine, and though he might not be that brilliant here, he put up a convincing performance. As Ruby, Zoe might not differ too much from the typical Indie movie pixies with quirkiness in every direction, but she was likeable enough. Their great chemistry can also be contributed to the fact that Zoe and Paul are real life couples. All in all, Ruby Sparks is an enjoyable watch for lovers alike. As for the single ones, you might need to prepare for introspective moment of contemplation right after the credits roll.
Personal rating: 7.7/10