An absolute masterpiece in terms of acting, screenplay and the magic unfolds.
I have loved these two for quite a while now. I fell in love with Zoe after ‘What if’ and with Paul Dano after watching ‘Little Miss Sunshine.’ They both helped create this based on Zoe’s understanding of a relationship. And Spoilers Ahead! Watch the movie. It is absolutely amazing!
Story and Thoughts
Calvin Weir Fields is a book writer, he has succeeded at an early age but gets writer’s block. Don’t we all have those? His problem is that he cannot find a relationship because he wants his ideal someone to be his ideal woman. He goes to a psychiatrist who helps him. Calvin has a dream about a beautiful red-headed woman. She is everything he dreams of, his dream girl. He starts writing about her, a detailed description of her.
In real life, he loves spending it bizarrely. He has his take on everything and he never questions them. Women are attracted to him but He finds that most women hate his dog, Scotty. The psychiatrist listens to Calvin’s enthusiasm about finally getting something to write about. He calls her Ruby Sparks. He gives her a childhood, everything from being in a relationship to what she likes, he even writes himself into this relationship with her.
He starts finding something odd in his life, around his apartment like woman’s clothes. Something which he wrote about Ruby appears in his house. He is confused and starts questioning his own sanity.
And finally, he sees the same stranger he dreamt about in his house, in his shirt. He becomes ludicrous and paranoid. He thinks he is actively imagining things. He starts getting a panic attack. He calls his psychiatrist and then his brother. His brother tells him the same of what it sounds like and tells him to ignore and go out with someone and
At first, he completely breaks down at the sight of her. And even ignores her completely. He goes on a date with another woman and Ruby goes there and confronts him and the woman. He realises she is actually real and chases after her.
They do all the crazy things.
There is this wonderful song called Fade into you. It perfectly represents them.
I am going to cut to the chase, she is from his imagination and she is also real. In true meaning, we all have our own version of that perfect someone in our imagination. They behave as we like and behave as we want. But life is not like that is it? It’s different. People have their own hearts and minds, a separate reality. If we move out of our headspace we can actually see the imperfections of a person is what makes them this unique individual. If we were all the same would we really have any value or understand worth for ourselves as well as others?
He is sort of, out of his mind too. In the whole premise, when the honeymoon period of their new blooming relationship is over. He starts to realise she is different from what he thinks about her, what he wrote she is as a person. He stops writing when the relationship starts, giving her, her own personality and actions around him which makes him miserable because he doesn’t want a free-willed version of her. When he writes about her, it’s like he creates monsters of emotional turmoil within her. When she pulls away (on her own), he starts to write for her to become closer. (The words are badly written by him). She becomes extremely clingy as though she has nothing besides being with him.
He writes her to be happy when she is frustrated with him. She becomes a child not metaphorically but actually. It is evident that whatever he writes she becomes the extreme version of that. This whole dynamic of him writing about his version of her, we can say it is like a person controlling the other. Making them suffocated or making them emotionally imbalanced. Driving them into rage, pain, sadness and weirdness because of the control that one won’t give up on the other.
I could feel her pain. It is like each time he is writing he is pulling her apart because she won’t behave the way he wants her to behave. He wants a perfect dolled up version of a person, only that she wouldn’t exist.
We get to an understanding of what happens when a relationship is very toxic. As a woman, I can tell how she feels or thinks. There is a version of a woman in a guys mind, an already made up unrealistic version when he sees a woman. Vice versa, it’s a fact that he keeps on putting her down to keep his desires up. That leads to unmet unmatched desires because he would have to write it forever. And it is fictional, if life went the way I want it to go in. I wouldn’t enjoy it at all.
Her emotional outbursts and changes keep him from changing her constantly and she gets completely exhausted. What is a relationship when everything one does is controlled or altered? (Wanda Vision)
One day he shows her the whole pages of what he wrote. They describe each part of her, every bit of how she behaved. She gets completely confused and angry. And he starts typing her to show that she will act the way he would want her to.
The whole scene had me crying buckets of tears. He is not showing her the proof that he wrote her out of his imagination. At this point, he is pointing out that he controls her. He controls her and makes her bark or dance, while she is doing those. She is completely breaking down.
She gets completely overwhelmed by this and locks herself into the room. At the point where he deliberately starts writing about how she should be, I started hating this guy.
A relationship cannot be based on what one imagines or thinks it should be like. Some so many people like a woman based on her looks but can never see past it and be with a woman the way she is, love her for who she is. We love an ideal or idea of a relationship but one has to experience it fully to understand what love stands for, what care, support and boundaries stand for. One should always get out of their headspace and be present in the moment. Be active in the present, if you feel bad because the person you’re with is happy. There is something very wrong with that dynamic. The frequency matches when one tries, one has to put in the effort.
It’s two people no matter how difficult or different coming together and supporting each other in ups and downs.
It is immensely painful to walk out of a relationship where one has to break down in tears to live with free will. What he does to her is abusive. Yes, he writes her into reality but when he understands that she has her own will, she is different from what he thinks about her or what he writes about her. He should have left writing and continued understanding her and loving her. Instead, he creates a monster he dislikes, it’s funny because he creates the monster within her. What I am trying to say is that though it is fictional. Many people live like that, in a relationship where they have to sit when the person asks them to and obey as the other wants at an unreasonable length. This gives no room for a relationship to grow. The person who does it does it because of something they lack in themselves. Their insecurities or their greed or something. Their personal issues are taken out on the relationship which is a sinking ship unless the person acknowledges and changes within.
I miss the times when one can say someone is bad or good. Nowadays they give sympathies to the villains. I think Calvin is a shallow person who only wanted an idealistic, unrealistic (like his brother says) toy, he is very self-centred and doesn’t get out of his bubble and experience life.
It made apparent that he is an introvert and picky and dislikes things that aren’t his way because of an ex who was so horrible to him.
We get to know this later that when he sees his ex again, she calls him out and tells him, he cannot live outside of himself. Which is what he does with Ruby. When she insists on meeting his parents, whom he doesn’t consider to be attached to him. He watches Ruby and the parents getting along. Instead of being happy he comes jealous and thus begins the control game.
After he shows her the humiliating puppeteering, he writes to make her do them. It broke my heart to watch her in extreme pain. This made me feel he is very cruel and not only that he is willing to show her that he is in control. I think the constant changing emotions portrayed by Zoe, is outstanding. It deserves a standing emotion. It is like in each new scene she is made to play extremes of emotion. I really think Paul and Zoe’s acting hit home.
He feels like she is too much for him to bear but it is his doing which makes her behave extremely. Sometimes people start insulting you and you have to bring out the worst to tell them off. It is like being with such people. With the wrong people, one has to constantly keep on going to extreme lengths of insanity to be around them. Just take Reflection of You for example. Everyone in it is a lunatic because one woman keeps on making trashy absurd choices.
Relationship red flags
If one feels uncomfortable at any point of the relationship be it way later. And if the person is not given the space where the opinion is heard. Or after hearing there are no changes made. One should consider a breakup.
Being with such a person makes one miserable. It’s because they wouldn’t grow. If the healthy boundaries are always crossed. Break up.
If they neg you or make you feel small after you tell them what their actions do and make you feel. Break up.
If your inner voice says this is wrong. Everyone has a voice, it later becomes like a disputing voice. If your question is am I right to leave this person whose actions are hurting me? Whose not taking any responsibility for their actions. Who just promise empty words. One can be conflicted and torn by two ongoing thoughts in the head such as… No one will love me if I leave him or I love him too much I can’t leave him because living with him is a pain but abandoning him is a bigger pain.
Speaking the words from experience. Remember it takes courage to leave an abusive relationship. And it also takes courage to walk away. Walking away is the endgame unless you want to become insane and live a life full of pain. Such people never change, maybe in the honeymoon period they were very loving and caring but if they aren’t in the present or aren’t going to do everything to mend and create a healthy relationship. They aren’t the ones.
What one can do is, heal. It takes time, depending on the level of exposure you had with such a person and your inner strength will determine the healing time.
If you do leave them, choose self-love and practice and more of it by taking care of yourself. For example, taking a warm bath, going to Spa and having relaxation, listening to the music you like (no lovey-dovey songs please!) or joining the activity which you always dreamed of doing. Basically forcing the energy of all you gave to and put into the person back into yourself. With time you will heal, I promise you that.
I think my worst curse and blessing is that I used to be able to see people transparently into good and bad. The thing is that we will always have a bad companionship or friends or acquaintances or co-workers but we can simply choose whether to let their problems, their insecurities hamper our well being.
I really love Zoe Kazan for making this. I really love you both. Paul Dono did an excellent job of being self-centric.
So what now? As the movie comes to an end, we realise that Calvin isn’t all horrible of a monster. Stricken with guilt and what he considers love. I don’t consider that as love. He writes the final words. He writes that he wants her to have free will. He wants her to live as though this all never happened. He writes she goes back to her original self. She vanishes, he reaches a lot of success and one day when he walks his dog in the park he encounters Ruby. She recognises him and he deflects that it’s from the book she is holding. She says that her friend recommended the book for her to read, she asks him not to spoil it for her. He says he won’t, he promises.
I am unsure at this moment if the whole experience teach Calvin anything at all or did he think of this as a reboot of what went wrong.
One more I disliked about him is that he agrees to have lunch with his fan even though he is just using her to keep his figment of imagination away.
I did love his character in the first few moments and later… Naaah.
I loved this movie and I watched their interview for helping me understand what the movie was about.
I think life is complicated but it can be less complicated if two people worked on their own development, support each other and love each other. Love begins when you start accepting all the qualities you find annoying in that person whom you are with.
I think watching their interviews I felt I couldn’t explain it any better than the way they did.
Thank you for reading.