Calvin (Paul Dano: Little Miss Sunshine, There Will Be Blood) is a 29-year-old boy prodigy who wrote his generation’s The Catcher in the Rye ten years ago, and hasn’t been able to write anything since. He’s got tons of money, lives in the Hollywood Hills, and is desperately unhappy. He begins to dream of a woman (Zoe Kazan, granddaughter of Elia, but I won’t hold that against her), Ruby, literally his dream girl, and decides to write about her. Then one day she appears in his kitchen, a real girl. At first he figures no one will see her, that she’s a figment of his imagination, but she’s solid as can be. He shares her origin with his brother, who naturally doesn’t believe him, until Calvin writes that she speaks French. Immediately, she starts speaking French. Brother is convinced, and naturally has a few sophomoric suggestions, like write some bigger tits for her. But he isn’t interested in that.
However, the temptation is too strong when they begin to have some of the little bickering disagreements all couples have. He starts to re-write her, and to no one’s surprise, the results are disastrous. It’s like the wishes the fabled genie grants for you: no matter what he does, there’s a catch he hadn’t thought of. It all culminates in his proving to her that she is his creation, nothing more than a marionette, compelled to do anything he writes. That is a truly dreadful scene, just horrific.
Dano is okay, but Zoe really shines, and she also wrote the screenplay. There is a stellar supporting cast, including Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas, his mother and stepfather who live in a fantastic place in Big Sur, and Elliott Gould! Other than those Oceans movies, I hadn’t seen him in a long time. Funny, he was a big deal in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and he’s worked steadily, but seldom with top billing anymore. This little indie production looks to have been shot entirely on locations around Hollywood and Big Sur. We saw several places
we used to frequent. I liked this movie a lot, in spite of the predictable happy ending.
But I did have an odd thought. Calvin, probably alone in his generation, uses a little manual typewriter. What I wondered was, was it actually him that made this woman appear out of nothing … or was it a magic typewriter? At the end, when she is gone, he puts the typewriter away and begins writing on a laptop, like everybody else. If it was the typewriter … what if she had discovered it, and started writing on it? All sorts of possibilities open up if they’d done that. I’m not suggesting that Zoe Kazan should have, but I wonder if she thought about it.