07 June 2013

Ruby Sparks

I had exactly zero interest in watching this movie, because the previews made it look like a fairly obnoxious and precious love story about a guy who writes his dream girl and then has hipster montages with her. But I've been listening to a lot of back episodes of Pop Culture Happy Hour, and in one of them Linda Holmes said she expected to hate the movie but really liked it, and I have come to trust Holmesie pretty much blindly, so when it was available for watching on my flight, I gave it a whirl. And of course, Linda was right. What makes the movie great is that rather than being the manic pixie dream girl story you expect, it is a very smart critique of exactly those kinds of stories.

Calvin is a lonely writer looking for love, and after he has a few dreams about Ruby, he writes one down, and presto, she comes to life. Thankfully, the movie doesn't spend much time trying to make that real; it establishes the hypothetical premise, does the bare minimum to validate it, and then turns to an exploration of the moral/philosophical aspects of the issue. Namely, do you actually want your dream girl, and what are relationships between real people like. It turns out to be a very smart and interesting take on that (though poor Calvin ends up looking like an unbelievably self-absorbed jerk who is borderline sadistic). I particularly enjoyed the way the movie used an implicit contrast to two other relationships to reflect on the subject. I also really liked the character of the brother, who seems, at moments, like a crass frat boy type, but turns out, much like Homer Simpson, to be redeemed by the deep love he feels for his wife, and the very grounded perspective he has on it.

Interestingly, although the movie seems to be a critique of the way that women are constructed as fantasy objects rather than valued as the complex and imperfect people that they are, it doesn't actually spend much time with the female characters, which is kind of ironic. But then again, what else is new. Despite that, it's a smart and entertaining film, definitely worth watching.

No comments: