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Ruby Sparks 2012 ***

As grand-daughter of the great Elia Kazan, it’s not surprising that Zoe Kazan has forged a Hollywood careers as an actress in films like Revolutionary Road. What’s more impressive is that she wrote and starred in this original comedy/drama about writer Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) who invents the character of Ruby Sparks, only to have her pop into his life in the form of Kazan. Directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris made their names with Little Miss Sunshine, and Ruby Sparks takes their comic abilities into darker territory, reflecting cleverly on what men want from women; Calvin thinks he wants to control Ruby, but finds that such control is unsatisfying. Support from Annette Benning and Antonio Banderas is entertaining if not entirely relevant as Calvin’s eccentric parents, and Steve Coogan contributes another well-honed turn as Calvin’s literary mentor. Not entirely funny or romantic, Ruby Sparks is surprisingly profound in the way it handles a light conceit, and marks a breakthrough role for Kazan.


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