Thursday, October 18, 2012
DonkeyB: 50 eggs gets his wish for a longer review; you get to read my refutation of SF’s review.
The film starts with an obviously slightly mentally ill writer, Calvin. He has written a hugely successful novel as a teenager and been unable to follow it up. Calvin’s ability to relate or emote is clearly non-existent. His therapist has recommended he get a dog; but rather than opening Calvin up, instead Scotty the dog has been imbued with the same paranoia, mental instabilities and fragilities Calvin himself has. This is important to note for what comes later.
To help with the writer’s block, Calvin’s therapist asks him to write him a very short piece. The important thing about the piece is it should be “bad”, as the film continues it becomes clear Calvin is obsessed with the idea of his own genius. Calvin will not let anyone use the word genius around him; “it’s a difficult word” his brother says at one point; what you think at the beginning is an insecure modesty born out of his embarrassment at being unable to follow up the brilliant first novel, the film reveals to be the exercising of a massive ego, he is so sure of his genius that it is preventing him doing anything in case it does not live up to his own idea of how brilliant he is.
It is this “bad” writing which conjures Ruby from Calvin’s imagination, she seems to be his dream girl, but as you would expect from a writer with such deep emotional issues his dreams are not necessarily what he thinks they should be. Ruby is an oblique reflection of what Calvin thinks he wants from his perfect girl, in a slightly less obvious way than Scotty has Calvin’s insecurities imposed on him.
The film has many very funny scenes, the retreat to Big Sur to visit Calvin’s newly bohemian mother and her partner is a good example, but as they develop we can see Ruby becoming less and less happy within the confines of Calvin’s limited creativity. He has been unable to imagine more than a two dimensional character.
The scenes which SF has a problem with are the ones which really make sense of the film. Calvin takes control of his creation, via his type writer. He goes back to work, tweaking his creation, as he “fixes” each default in her original programming (for want of a better word) he creates a new more extreme one; until finally he reveals to Ruby that she is in fact his creation and he can control what she does. It is a powerful scene and one that is undoubtedly disturbing; it reveals just how unwell Calvin is and just how sick and self-serving his imagination is.
I do have a problem with the ending; I don’t like it and I think it creates a paradox around the concept of whether Ruby is real or a figment of Calvin’s imagination but up until the end of the book reading I really liked the film.
Before the bad ending 8.67
After the bad ending 6.27