Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Written by Zoe Kazan
On general release from 12th October 2012
Nerdy first time, best selling novelist Calvin (Paul Dano) opens the
film on a psychiatrist's couch, seeking help for writer's block and a
non-existent sex-life after a five relationship has turned sour. The shrink
suggests writing about an ideal girlfriend and Ruby (Zoe Kazan) will change
everything in her metamorphosis from written page to reality.
An incubation of the male mind, at first a disbelieving Calvin is followed,
in bewildered acknowledgement of Ruby's presence, by testosterone fuelled,
married brother Harry (Chris Messina), who is soon mouthing some potential
outcomes of moulding Ruby's personality. Perfect as she is for Calvin,
all is not rosy from her perspective as the narrative develops. Having
already caught him on a lunch date with a literary groupie, who has more
than food on her mind, Ruby is furious enough to throw a drink over him
and is almost inconsolable in the argument that follows.
While still ticking all the boxes, it becomes apparent that the girl
wants to be more than a paper-thin construct, desiring an identity and
a life of her own. This includes wanting to meet his parents. He prevaricates
but eventually caves in to a visit in which he sulks his way through the
stay as Ruby strays further from his desired vision. His mother, Gertrude,
luxuriates in her company as does partner Mort who delights in feeding
Scotty the dog against Calvin’s wishes.
After returning home, in order to meet his own frustrated expectations,
Ruby is made to respond to the whim of the typewriter's keys. At times
sad, happy or clingy in wry or comic situations that would be toe-curlingly
cringworthy in a real couple, the denouement approaches.
Further tinkering leads to darker mood swings in both as the tension
rises to a malicious and vengeful finale. To the jerky and erratic stammer
of the keyboard Ruby is maniacally manipulated on invisible strings before
collapsing in exhaustion as her torment culminates in a jammed tangle
of type bars. Calvin, too, is a spent force and the separation is realised
when he sets Ruby free with the last word of, what will be acclaimed as,
another hit novel.
In a coda to what has gone before he writes up the book on a computer
which speaks volumes in itself. Once again famous, alone and out dog walking
in the park, he has a chance encounter with a real-life Ruby. This time
the ending is left open.