Since What If is one of my favorite films, I decided to pick up Zoe Kazan’s film Ruby Sparks. Having read the synopsis, I was interested in how the film would handle the way love is, the nature of identity, emotion, and personal space. It is a story of a writer faced with a block because of his heartbreak. Given an assignment to write about someone who loves his scared puppy, he writes about a girl named Ruby Sparks.
Now, what is really cool about this story is that she is not perfect at all. In fact, she admits that she is a mess. She is lovable, though. She is sweet, kind, understanding. Even when Calvin resents his family, she accepts them and loves them wholeheartedly. She gives them her attention, her love, her openness. In turn, they love her back. I adore her.
This story complicates the traditional view of identity. We often hope for control over others, want them to be happy, want them to rely on us, love us unconditionally and faithfully (often exclusively, too), which is not realistic. People have free will and they don’t always want to be with their loved ones all the time. This perception of love as a co-dependent thing is not healthy. Spending all time with a significant other is not good for either person in the relationship. The movie certainly raises this point and taps into insecurities people tend to have about their relationships. The moment Ruby makes friends, Calvin writes her as dependent on him as possible, and she is miserable. She is crying all the time and clings to him desperately. He is also unhappy seeing her this upset. So, he tweaks her further. So, she is happy all the time. Flinching, he writes her back and forth, toying with her and it breaks him (and her).
It is not until he sets her free, and writes about it, that he meets her again on equal terms. The field is even again. He does not have the upper hand, which is awesome and much healthier to see. I love, love, love this film. It can be hard to watch sometimes because seeing someone being controlled that much is rough. I can say that it is really well written, well shot, well acted, and well directed. It hits home right away. I highly recommend it!