Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, USA, 3/10
So this is what 500 DAYS OF SUMMER looks like to the unconvinced. Apart from the fact I never believed in Dano as a writer -- what we see of his novel-in-progress is just stage directions -- the problem here is quite fundamental. RUBY SPARKS isn't enough about what it's about. OK ... a writer's writing about the girl of his dreams manifests her IRL. But too little of the film is actually about that, instead just serving up the latest helping of indie-romcom cutesiness that wouldn't be terribly different if Dano had met Kazan at a museum. And if that lack of difference WERE the point, a possibility I toyed with during the 2nd act, then the whole 3rd act is wrongly conceived. There is a lengthy sequence set among Dano's hippy parents at Big Sur that has nothing to do with the fantastical, and potentially fantastic, premise and serves no purpose except to give Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas the chance to double the over-ripe aggravation Alan Arkin provided in LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE. And don't believe anyone (like Stephen Holden at NY Times) who tells you this is about the creative process -- the film takes pains to specifically exclude that read, establishing she is really and truly present, flesh and blood, equally to the whole world. But only in one late sequence does it really deal with her reality as a puppet, in a dark scene that suggests end of THE TRUMAN SHOW, from Christof's POV. But then RUBY even takes that back with an ill-advised coda (crushingly similar to 500 DAYS) that indicates film wants to have it all ways. Kinda like the central character.