Movie Review: Dreaming up the perfect love

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By Kelly Dolejsi

“Ruby Sparks” (2012, rated R), screening this week at Mesa Public Library, tells the story of young novelist Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) who has not recovered from his early success. Nor has the acclaimed “genius” recovered from his father’s death, or his break-up with his first serious girlfriend.
He cannot write, he cannot maintain friendships — he can barely be kind to his dog.
From this nadir, he begins to dream. And he dreams, like many of us would in his leaky, lonely boat, of love. He imagines a girl (Zoe Kazan) with red hair, bright tights, endearing quirks and absolute adoration for him. He writes her down.
Thrilled to be writing again, he is deeply involved before he realizes he is in love with his Ruby, even if she is a product of his own mind.
The plot reminds me of “Lars and the Real Girl,” which screened at the library in February, in that its protagonist chooses a paramour who is not alive in the usual way. Except here, Calvin knows the deal, and further, is firmly in control of the woman he claims to love.
Also unlike Lars, Calvin never lets go of the fantasy. I think we’re supposed to believe he does, but ultimately, the ending makes it too easy for him to fall in love, again, with himself.
Nominated for six big-time awards, including a Saturn and an Independent Spirit, “Ruby Sparks” has been vetted by some of the best. And its screenwriter and lead actress, Kazan, grew up surrounded by excellent examples of how to do what she’s doing. Her grandfather directed “On the Waterfront.” Her mother wrote the screenplay for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” Her father wrote the screenplay for “Reversal of Fortune.”
So, quite possibly, this is a wonderful film.
“Ruby Sparks” shows at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Mesa Public Library as part of the library’s Free Film Series.
The Free Film Series presents a movie the first Thursday of nearly every month, thanks to the Friends of Los Alamos County Libraries.
For more information, call the library at 662-8240.