Little Miss Sunshine is arguably one of best films this side of the millennium, and six years on since the black comedies release, directing duo Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris finally return with their follow-up hit Ruby Sparks, and despite the incredible pressure placed upon their shoulders, they've come up trumps once again, with what could well be the romantic comedy of the year.
Paul Dano plays novelist Calvin Weir-Fields, who despite gaining huge success with his first book is struggling with writer's block, unable to motivate himself to kickstart his latest novel. However, when he starts dreaming of a fictional girl named Ruby, he soon finds himself on his typewriter incessantly, writing fervently about his latest creation. However, things take a somewhat surreal turn when Ruby (Zoe Kazan) comes to life, as he awakes to find her standing in his kitchen.
Having written Ruby as the girl of his dreams, Calvin – alongside his bewildered brother Harry (Chris Messina) - can't quite comprehend her sudden appearance, as it becomes apparent that every word he writes dictates and changes Ruby accordingly. Suddenly the man who had almost given up on love finds himself in a beautiful romance with his perfect woman. Although as any writer is aware, every love story has to have an ending...
Of course given the surrealistic narrative, Ruby Sparks makes absolutely no sense in the slightest, yet the beauty of this production is that it doesn't have to. Taking pointers from the likes of Groundhog Day and Stranger Than Fiction, you simply have to suspend your disbelief and let Dayton and Faris take you where they please. You could quite easily pick holes and ask questions of Ruby Sparks, but if you take it for what it is; it makes for quite wonderful viewing.
The most brilliant aspect to this picture, is the invention of Ruby herself. Although being a mere creation of Calvin's imagination, she isn't a beauty queen as such, and she comes with a series of imperfections. He created what is supposedly the girl of his dreams, and even then she isn't perfect, nor is she conventionally pretty. She's still attractive, but considering he had the power to create whoever he wanted, the fact she remains flawed is what makes this entire predicament so especially brilliant.
Dano turns in a glorious performance as Calvin, both emotionally and physically, using his somewhat gangly demeanour to great effect, as it perfectly encapsulates the awkward, socially inept character he is portraying, while you never once question the fact he is portraying someone universally lauded as a 'genius', despite how much he hates that particular word. Meanwhile, there are also cameo roles for Antonio Banderas and Steve Coogan, and any film starring the latter is alright by me. Well, apart from Night at the Museum. And What Goes Up. Oh you know what I mean.
Quirky and unconventional, Ruby Sparks simply offers something different to your average rom-com, adding a fantastical twist to proceedings, loosely based on the Pygmalion myth. I must admit to having a slight problem with the final five minutes, and I would love to tell exactly what that problem is, but sadly I can't do that. Suppose you'll just have to go and see the movie to find out.