When authors and their characters collide
I’m a bit of a sceptic whenever I hear about writers who claim that they’re out of control of their characters. Every writer I’ve known has struggled hard to get their writing going at all. Their characters won’t lift a finger or open their mouth with less than that you force them, so I usually write it off as “humble bragging”.
However if the writer we’re speaking about is a character in a movie, it’s an entirely different thing. I love to see creatures of our imagination materialize in our world and then go straight to an interesting confrontation with the person who created them. Those stories tend to be smart, fun and mind-bending.
The last movie author-meets-character movie I watched was Stranger than Fiction from 2006. That movie is told from the point of view of the book character, Harold, who after finding out that his author is plotting to kill him, puts up a fight to be kept alive.
In the more recent romantic comedy Ruby Sparks the perspective is altered. The centre of the movie is the one-hit wonder author Calvin Weir Fields who, in an attempt to get out of his writer’s blockage, starts writing about his imaginary dream girl. To his astonishment, this dream girl comes alive and he falls head over heels in love with her.
It doesn’t take long for him to realize that he holds a certain power over her being the author. This temptation turns out to be irresistible and before he knows it he’s rewriting Ruby to become even better. And then he rewrites again. And again. Getting it right isn’t as easy as you may think, especially not if you’re a character in a “be careful of what you wish for” story like this.
A fun movie
Ruby Sparks is by no means a profound movie, but I thought it was pretty damned fun, and considering how picky I am with “fun”, that is high praise. But there’s more to it than just the light hearted comedy; it puts its finger on easy it is to get into a mode where we try to reconfigure our loved ones and how unwise such attempts can be.
For reasons I don’t understand Ruby Spark didn’t get any theatrical release in Sweden apart from the festival scene. Now it’s out on DVD and I’d definitely recommend it, especially if you’re anything like me in terms of love for author-meets-character movies.
Oh and by the way Zoe Kazan is awesome. She didn’t just write this movie; she also acted it and she produced it. For how much I love Lena Dunham, it’s great to see that there are more capable young female film workers who are about to establish themselves in the film industry.
Ruby Sparks (Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, US 2012) My rating: 4/5