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I've seen Zoe Kazan work in a few films and I've enjoyed work she's done before, but until I saw "Ruby Sparks" last week, I didn't really "get" Zoe Kazan.
Consider me fully onboard at this point, though. Not only does she give a fetching, smart, complex performance that fully refutes the entire notion of the "manic pixie dream girl," but she's also the screenwriter for the movie that opens in some markets on Wednesday.
Her co-star in the film and, according to the interviews I did with them last week, also her co-star in real life is Paul Dano, known by many for his work in "Little Miss Sunshine" and "There Will Be Blood" and "Cowboys and Aliens." In the film, he plays Calvin, an author whose first book was published when he was a teenager, making him a media sensation. Now stuck with a massive case of writer's block, he tries an writing exercise that leads to him turning out page after page describing his perfect woman, only to find her actually in his house one morning. Kazan plays Ruby, the girl he creates, and as Calvin experiments, he learns that he can indeed make her into anything or make her do anything simply by adding to his manuscript.
It's a sharp, funny film that plays its fantastic concept for complete realism, and the main reason it works is because the chemistry between Kazan and Dano is so interesting, so genuine. I sat down with both of them to talk about the film, about working together, and about some of the specific choices they made for the characters and the world of the film.
It's been a while since "Little Miss Sunshine," and I'm sure part of that was the pressure of following up such a widely-liked and acclaimed first film for Dayton and Faris as directors. They chose wisely, though, and the combination of their perspective as an older married couple and the vitality and energy of the script and their lead performances is something quite fetching, and I think you get a sense of just how much the two leads care about their film from this interview.
"Ruby Sparks" opens in limited release on Wednesday, July 25.