Ruby Sparks (2012, directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, written by Zoe Kazan)
[No. 28 of 52 in #52FilmsByWomen]
This is a strange and quirky movie, probably along the lines of Adaptation or other Charlie Kaufman-type stories. It tells the story of a novelist whose character he imagines miraculously comes to life.
This movie is a great deconstruction of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG) trope. Since Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan) is, by design, a young white man’s concept of an ideal girlfriend. She’s beautiful, spontaneous, fun, and just weird enough to be considered quirky yet not too weird as to be considered crazy or unlikeable. She claims that ‘she’s a mess’, but we don’t really see how ‘messy’ she is.
While writer Zoe Kazan has stated that we should not call Ruby a MPDG, and the use of that term is too reductive, the story does touch upon similar ideas and contexts that prompts people to invoke that term. The movie pokes at the the concept of what a ‘perfect girlfriend’ or ‘perfect relationship’ as envisioned by a young heterosexual man. This is interesting to think about since almost all media is designed to pander to, and also influence the the ideals and desires of the straight young adult (white/privileged) men. So much media is designed so that female characters hare of the optimum desirability to the men, or have some personality archetype that serves the development of the male character.
Perhaps the true core of the movie functions even if we put aside MPDGs the media, or gender. Ruby Sparks shows us how our idea of the ‘perfect relationship’ doesn’t really work in practice. It asks the inevitable question that even if someone is lucky enough to meet such a ‘perfect person’, what would happen next?
As humans, we are flawed and constantly change. So even if we manage to find a ‘perfect relationship’, our ideas of perfection inevitably change as we grow and learn. Would the relationship remain ‘perfect’ forever?