Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan) is a corporeal work of fiction, a creation of writer Calvin (Paul Dano) somehow magicked into existence. She’s a free spirit. A flash of red hair and purple stockings. She’s deeply in love with her creator (though unaware of her origins). Their relationship is portrayed with weird tonal shifts; a whimsical lightness that lingers when it shouldn’t before a hard turn into a darker tone.
The biggest shift comes late when Kazan’s script spells out the subtext. It’s jarring and unnecessary; lines like “The person you wanted to be in a relationship with was you” aren’t needed to understand this is a deconstruction of the “dream girl” trope and the solipsism behind it. It distracts from more complex ideas (eg “can a man truly write a realistic woman?”), and is subsequently undercut by a howlingly misjudged conclusion that sells out the movie’s own philosophy.
Ruby Sparks is not without merit; it looks nice; the soundtrack is like a livelier, lovelier take on Memento’s score; and there’re some good performances – especially Kazan’s – on show. But it’s not as smart as it thinks it is, demonstrating a frustrating unwillingness to let the audience make up their own minds.