This week FTRC’s Film Clubbers checked out alternative rom-com Ruby Sparks. But what did they think?
(Serious spoilers. Everywhere!)
ROSANNA ‘Knowing that Ruby Sparks was directed by the husband and wife team behind Little Miss Sunshine (a movie I adore) was enough reason for me to excitedly anticipate this film. However, it was also the reason I left the cinema feeling mildly disappointed.’
‘It had an undeniably great ensemble cast but as far as romantic (fantasy) comedies go there wasn’t much to laugh about and the ending vexed me.’
‘It was quirky – but not funny. I think it’s misleading to associate the word comedy with films like ‘this.’
‘The hysterical climax of the film was borderline disturbing but it highlighted the all-too-real seriousness of controlling relationships. However, all that was all undermined shortly after by the twee and cheesy ending. Had the film finished 5 or day minutes before it did it would have had more of a lasting emotional impact on me.’
SUZAN ‘I enjoyed Ruby Sparks, but not as much as Little Miss Sunshine. Maybe that’s where I went wrong – I was expecting too much.’
‘This certainly wasn’t a laugh out loud comedy. I agree with Jack, it was just as much a cautionary tale.’
‘I agree that it probably didn’t happen, other than in his head.’
‘Performance-wise I thought it was good all over. Zoe Kazan reminded me of someone, but I still can’t put my finger on who…’
‘Great performance from Kazan but much as I love Paul Dano I can’t help but think casting him here smacks of nepotism…nice to see Elliott Gould though!’
‘I’d agree that it’s both a warning against idealising a romantic partner and a study in loneliness; it works on both levels.’
ADANMA ‘I quite liked this movie. It had some funny bits, like the scene between the brothers, but also showed how complex relationships can sometimes be.’
‘However, the scene with Steve Coogan in the pool was just bizarre.’
‘I was actually confused by the end of the film as to whether any of it truly happened. Did he just make it all up?’
‘Zoe Kazan as Ruby definitely stood out for me. She kind of reminded me of Kate Winslet’s character in Eternal Sunshine, seemingly happy and free-spirited but depressive and slightly bipolar.’
‘Kazan is clearly a great talent, as she has the balls to go to places that might make audiences uncomfortable – that is what makes this film stand out from the crowd.’
‘It’s both a comedy and a cautionary tale and when it wants to be, it can be very funny – but it also has an important message to impart, sort of like a comedic Twilight episode.’
MIKE ‘I didn’t even see it really as a rom-com to be honest. I found it more of a quirky, oddball character study of extreme loneliness. Personally I saw it as an entirely made up, imaginary story in the head of the desperately lonely and isolated and socially unaccepted lead.’
‘I think the whole point of the film isn’t really about how, why or if Ruby is real, but is about exploring the human emotion within it of belonging, loneliness, love and acceptance.’
CHRIS ‘I really liked Ruby Sparks but it raises a lot of questions about how much control people can have in a relationship.’
‘The climax was a bit difficult to watch but at the same time it was interesting. Here was a character who was getting to the point where he would lose the one thing that was important to him and he panicked, in a way.’
‘I liked Kazan a lot and she and Dano seemed comfortable onscreen together. I would have liked to see more of Ruby, even though the film was a case study of Dano’s character.’
‘It was a good execution of a case study into Dano’s character. The themes of love and control are explored in a fresh way, but it suffers from some disposable supporting cast members. Nevertheless, a good watch.’
CHARLOTTE ‘We loved almost everything about this film. The cast were wonderful and interacted so very well together and the story itself was witty, engaging and interesting, leaving you with something to consider when it ended. Was it, or wasn’t it? Did they, or didn’t they?’
‘My only bugbear was how badly his manipulations affected Ruby. Her mood swings were pretty shocking and it left me feeling pretty uncomfortable.’
‘This did, however, prove that people need to realise just how much their actions affect others. Wanting to always control people isn’t a positive thing, even from an imaginary viewpoint.’
‘Whilst not a laugh a minute comedy, this is an amusing and smile inducing film that also gives you food for thought.’
We’ll admit that heading into Ruby Sparks, we were expecting some sort of ‘500 Days of Summer 2’ deal. We didn’t get it. Instead, we got a smart relationship drama that, while occasionally amusing, didn’t give us much to laugh at.
Lonely writer Calvin reckons he can cure a bad case of writer’s block (and a woeful love life), by writing the woman of his dreams into a novel. She cooks, she games, she’s into zombies…she’s his kinda woman. And then he wills her into existence.
This is where Ruby Sparks gets interesting. Instead of everything being all twee, hearts-and-flowers and picnics in the park soundtracked by obscure indie, the film becomes a study in controlling, possessive relationships and the dangers of idolising a romantic partner. He can literally control her; and does, to sometimes terrifying effect. Wowsers.
Both Kazan and Dano do well in their roles, but it’s Kazan who turns in the standout performance. Shame the can’t be said for Steve Coogan, or any number of background characters who do little more than pad out the plot.
It doesn’t always work, but there’s enough here to give us serious pause for thought. And that’s quite enough, if you ask us.
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