Another great indie movie. Heard and read mixed reviews of this one, but I found it thoroughly engaging. Directed by the husband and wife team Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris—who were responsible for LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE and before that a lot of great music videos—and starring the real life couple Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan, RUBY SPARKS has a lot of the same charm and upbeat though quirky satisfaction of their former work, but it also has some unexpected intensity not quite as easy to surrender to.
Dano plays a writer, an uneducated or self educated prodigy who is now a decade past his early triumph and facing a writers block that the entire story is about his overcoming. It's a romantic fantasy that despite the usual movie writer cliches (rapid typing of entire pages that seem to need no rewriting etc.) worked for this writer. And its the best work Dano's done, for my taste, since I first noticed him in LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE.
The acting is all terrific and Zoe Kazan is a revelation. Playing the usual indie movie irresistible oddball sweetheart etc. she is brave enough to play against what has become a contemporary stereotype in ways that made her performance refreshing and yep, irresistible, at least for me. And Annette Benning and Antonio Banderas in smaller roles knock it out of the park as they usually do.
Someone who's work I was unfamiliar with, Chris Messina, managed to play the sidekick (in this case brother of Dano's lead character) role with some originality. All in all a satisfying evening at the movies. Worth seeing, is my verdict.
[Oh, and PS: Zoe Kazan wrote the movie too, which is really admirable. Sort of an "American" version of Julie Delpy, only more like Woody Allen. Anyway, impressive and I will definitely make sure I catch anything else she writes.]