Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Writer: Zoe Kazan (screenplay)
Cast: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas.
Runtime: 104 minutes.
Official synopsis: A novelist struggling with writer’s block finds romance in a most unusual way: by creating a female character he thinks will love him, then willing her into existence.
Why I was excited to see this film: I’ve been a writer all my life, and have often felt that my characters would come to life before my eyes. Of course they can’t but here – they do. This film was about that really happening, so I absolutely had to watch!
Review: Calvin is a one-hit wonder novelist, his lightning struck at age 19. Now, 10 years later, he is stuck in cement when it comes to producing his follow-up. It doesn’t help that he is pressured by his fans, critics, professors and family. But one day, his shrink assigns a simple writing task. He even asks for it to be “bad,” thus relieving Calvin of any pressure to excel.
He takes on the duty, and let’s just say, it rocks his world. He writes about his ultimate dream girl, Ruby. The next morning he awakes to find her living in his house as if they’ve been involved in a perfect relationship forever. Calvin realizes he has the power to change her moods, speech, mannerisims and actions through the power of writing. It’s this part of the film that will keep you chuckling, swooning and falling in love with the idea of…falling in love. But as days pass, Ruby’s shine dims. It’s not real love. It’s Calvin’s fictional loved played out. Out of desperation, he takes drastic measures to keep her faithful and devoted.
The magic for me came from the pairing of Paul Dano as Calvin and Zoe Kazan as Ruby (I’m sure it helped that they are dating in real life). There’s a certain quirky comfort between them that makes them fun to watch. For me, the ultimate theme is about the love of writing, creating, manifesting our dreams – and having to deal with the consequences when they don’t play out the way we imagined. This movie made me laugh and also tear up – but not at the scenes you’d expect. I cried when Calvin finally owned up and shared a speech about his love affair with writing. That passion will translate to each audience member as they think of their own dream agenda!
Four of of five stars.
NOTE: After the advanced screening, screenwriter and lead actress Zoe Kazan talked to us (the audience) and answered questions. Someone asked about knowing what to cut from a story while writing. She replied that anything that doesn’t move the story forward or serve the main theme has to be cut. “Kill your darlings,” she said.