Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of movies that relate to writing. Some of my favorites include Stranger Than Fiction, Adaptation, Midnight in Paris, The Hours, and even the cutesy Miss Potter. But I think I’ve found a new favorite to go to the top of the list. If you liked any of the movies I just listed, you should really check out Ruby Sparks.

Note: This review contains spoilers

Starring Paul Dano as Calvin, the writer, and Zoe Kazan as Ruby, Ruby Sparks made me feel as if it’s okay to feel potentially crazy when creating a character. What if the character you came up with suddenly existed because you wrote them into existence? That’s what the movie deals with. But the fun doesn’t stop there – what if you could control whatever that person did, thought, or felt just by typing? Co-star Chris Messina as Calvin’s brother Harry serves as the vehicle for those exact questions to Calvin.

So the movie becomes not just a journey of a writer who writes a person into existence but also explores what makes us who we are in the first place. Through Calvin, we see someone having to make the choice of whether or not to play God with someone else’s life. Through Ruby, we deal with free will or “fate”.

I didn’t find the film as pithy or magical as Stranger Than Fiction. But I think the whole movie speaks to me as a writer in terms of giving some substance to my belief that my strongest characters really do exist in a very real way for me. It just takes that concept to the next level (I’m really hoping my fallen angel character from one of my projects does not show up on my doorstep wanting my soul). When Calvin reads an excerpt from his work towards the end, I think every writer should feel at least a little inspired even if it’s a bit trite.

I rented the movie to entertain my brain while taking a break from writing. I ended up purchasing it to be able to add it to my little “writers” film collection.

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