In a movie world so top heavy with big-budget action flicks and gross-out comedies, a film such as "Ruby Sparks" is a magical gift. It's a brilliantly written love story that's such a flawless blend of comedy and drama -- and this will shock the sunglasses off movie studio executives -- it'll entertain anyone, young or old, who's ever fallen in love.
As a bonus, the film's a grand entrance for star and writer Zoe Kazan, granddaughter of famed filmmaker Elia Kazan. It's almost unfair one person should be so talented both as an actor and scribe.
Her smart script resonates with universal truths about how complicated relationships can become if one person tries to sand away the other's rough edges. And, as the title character, Kazan flows between dramatic emotional changes with ease, grace and an unbridled energy that would put Zooey Deschanel to shame.
"Ruby Sparks" looks at the unorthodox relationship between a writing protegee and his greatest creation.
Many think the first book by Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano), written when he was a teenager, is destined to be a literary classic. He's lived off that acclaim for the past year, managing to eke out only a few short stories in that time.
In the middle of almost crippling writer's block, Calvin dreams of Ruby (Kazan), a free spirit who captures his heart. Calvin wakes up and begins to write Ruby's story only to discover his literary creation has come to life.
She's not a manifestation of a broken mind, but a living, breathing person spawned from the union of nouns and verbs.
Calvin believes he's found the perfect partner, but his controlling nature soon begins to push Ruby away, and then, literally, to change her.
Kazan's script slowly strips away the layers of a relationship, from initial excitement to often disappointing realities. Her point is that no matter the dark matters that are exposed, these negatives are part of what makes up a person, real or imagined.
Although there's a strong supporting cast of Chris Messina, Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas, this movie works because of Kazan and Dano. She brings a youthful energy to old soul acting skills that's in perfect harmony with Dano's performance as a tormented soul.
Just when it seems like the only movies being released are those with big explosions or body-function jokes, a film like "Ruby Sparks" comes along as a reminder of true movie marvels.
"Ruby Sparks," rated R for language, sexual content, drug use. Stars Zoe Kazan, Paul Dano, Chris Messina, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas. Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. Running time: 94 minutes. Grade: A Theaters and times for this movie | Other movie reviews
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org
or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.