Ruby Sparks: On Fiction and Love

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!

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Dreams & Destruction: Inception

There are  two other ways many mental ill patients, or traumatized individuals, deal with their overwhelming feelings: dreaming and construction. Like I have said before, this is not “sadness,” this is energy coursing through veins urging, moving a person. Inception is a story essentially  about a team of “dream hackers,” who try to implant an idea to help a wealthy man stay wealthy. I think this is the simplest explanation without any spoilers.

Things to Love About this Film and How it deals with Trauma, Dreams, Creation, and Destruction as Coping Mechanisms:

1. Nolan is careful to point out something that I was so happy to see: when you create worlds, it’s a very complex process. Dreaming is not easy—especially for those who are traumatized. We see that Cobb his subconscious knows, the people in the dream will look at him and they know that the world is wrong.

2. We see a lot of preparation, planning, and frustration. Unlike Sucker Punch’s Snyder, Nolan does not pretend that the dream world, or implanting an idea (inception) is easy.

3. This gives dreams a whole new weight. What we dream, whether literally in our sleep or when we are awake, consciously can lead us to a conclusion and then an idea that can ultimately change our lives.

4. We see that this is a team effort and that, even in “dreams,” we have fights and full on wars to fight. I like that a person can protect their dreams, have some sort of security—all while you’re sleeping, you can have armies defending your secrets and fears. Our dreams say so much about us…

5. The leads me to Cobb’s trauma issues with Mal (come on dude, look at her name!). Dreams, the worlds we create—projects, jobs, friendships, families (“in real life” or “in our sleep”) can be the death of us

7. Female empowerment, thank goodness: essentially the story begins and ends with women—Mal, the woman who locked away her “reality check” tool (which I thought was a cool addition, by the way) and started to confuse which world was which. Ariadne is an architect, but she soon becomes a creator of worlds; however, she learns not to put herself in them too much. We never learn a thing about her, Arthur, Eamus, or our awesome Yusuf.

8. The film’s artistry essentially taught (hopefully) people to dream and (de)construct to deal with issues.  We all have the power to create. It’s the restraints we place on ourselves, the rules.
Dream Away…

When I first heard of Me Before You, I was drawn to the cast. Emilia
I really, really, really love this story of This is Where I Leave You. The
If you ever want to experience a love story, a beautiful one at that, read