Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled Ruby Sparks

Thoughts on, and a place to discuss, the plot details we can't reveal in our review.


Here’s the biggest problem with Ruby Sparks: the ending. It’s apparently meant to convey that people can change, that having freed Kazan from his control, Dano has proved he’s learned his lesson and is ready to try relationships again, this time with an actual human rather than a wish-fulfillment fantasy figure.

Unfortunately, there’s still an immense power balance in his relationship with Kazan. Since he retains all his memories, and she doesn’t remember him at all, he’s still in the position of the creator contemplating and judging his work—he’s just been given a Get Out Of Jail Free card. In the process of giving him that card, the film undoes all the work it did to make Kazan a nuanced person in her own right, and turns her into a simplistic prize Calvin has earned by being something less than history’s most selfish asshole. If he’d lost his memories as well (rather than profiting on them in the form of a book!), this ending might have some of the poignancy of Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, with two people drawn toward each other, possibly doomed to repeat their mistakes, but at least with an honest chance to start over. Alternately, if Kazan remembered how Dano victimized and humiliated her, but chose to remember the good times and his willingness to relinquish control for her sake, and she went back to him anyway, that might be unpleasant, but at least she’d feel like an independent actor making an informed decision.

Instead, Dano gets to make all his mistakes without losing anything, except the magical power over Kazan he never should have had in the first place, if they were going to have a real relationship. Screwing up and getting to start over without consequence as an older, wiser person is a pleasant, affirming fantasy, but here, it’s a fantasy that comes entirely at Kazan’s expense, and at the expense of the entire point of the film. Once Dano finally realizes that she deserves to be a person, rather than an object, the storyline rewards him… by turning her into a compliant, accessible fantasy-object all over again.