(On Cable TV, February 2014) I have an obvious soft spot for movies about writers, so it didn’t take much to get me interested in this story in which a novelist so powerfully imagines a love interest character that she shows up the next day. Everything he writes is reflected in her, and it doesn’t take a long time for the goofy romance to cede ground to weightier matters. Never mind the theme of authorship and dealing with one’s characters: as a Pygmalion-inspired meditation on control within relationships, Ruby Sparks works well and culminates in a hair-raising sequence of existentialist horror. Fortunately, it’s not where the film ends, and the satisfying wrap-up is enough to bring back the film in the romantic-comedy genre. Paul Dano is good in a role that requires us to find the protagonist annoying, sympathetic and even despicable at times. But it’s Zoe Kazan who steals the show as the eponymous Ruby, turning in a vivid performance in the middle of a film that she has written. It’s not an easy role as the character is artificially manipulated to and from self-determination, in-between polar emotional states. (There’s something trivially interesting in knowing that the film’s lead couple is also a couple in real-life.) While Ruby Sparks may be a bit too low-key to earn much attention in an age of blockbusters, the high-concept premise is executed with wit and charm, touching upon a variety of themes (just the material on male insecurity within relationships is enough for an entire movie) while keeping a sharp focus on the characters. It’s an intensely likable film despite a few intensely unpleasant moments and is well-worth a bit of time –doubly so for would-be novelists.