Paul Dano stars in this meta-romantic comedy as a blocked writer who creates a fictional muse and is stunned when she appears as flesh and blood. Better yet, his dream girl Ruby (Zoe Kazan) does whatever he types. However, this Pygmalian tale for the digital age does not necessarily have a happy ending. Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas and Steve Coogan hop aboard for the magical-reality ride, written by Kazan herself and directed by the husband-and-wife team behind Little Miss Sunshine.
Literary wunderkind Calvin Weir-Fields (Dano) ekes out the long days in his modernist LA pad cursed with a unshiftable case of writer's block magnified by a moribund love life.
In a final bid to creatively put pen to paper (actually to bash away on the keys of his old Olympic typewriter), he conjures up Ruby Sparks, a feistily bo-ho young protagonist (Kazan) who is his vision of the female ideal.
Then she turns up in his apartment...
In an incredibly assured debut, writer and actress Kazan wittily and warmly dissects a relationship with the balance of power inexorably weighed towards Calvin's can't-believe-his-luck loser.
As their "relationship" progresses - and the flesh and blood Ruby is introduced to his friends and family - the initially impeccably principled Calvin can't resist tweaking his fair Frankenstein, rendering her needy when he's neglected and oppresively up when he's feeling down.
At the same time, the comedy imperceptiiby shifts from the breezily droll (when Ruby is introduced to Calvin's sceptical brother) to the darkly disturbing (when Calvin morphs into bullying manipulator) until it's not longer funny at all.
Into this rich mix are tossed Bening and Banderas as Calvin's hippy-drippy parents while Coogan plays a slimily bilious celebrity author with designs on Ruby.
Kazan's first-rate script - a rom-com that is both romantic and comedic - is beautifully served by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, the husband-and-wife directing team behind Little Miss Sunshine.
This ruby certainly does spark