RUBY SPARKS (Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNNN
Ruby Sparks feels like the best Woody Allen movie Woody Allen never made - a clever magic-realist romantic fantasy centred on an author (Paul Dano) so infatuated with his newest character that he literally brings her into being. Specifically, she turns up in his house, wondering what he wants for breakfast.
The dream girl is played by Zoe Kazan, whose adroitly constructed screenplay spends exactly as much time as it needs (and not a second more) to establish the stranger-than-fiction conceit, using Ruby's fantastical origins as a springboard to consider relationships in general, the impossibility of ever finding a perfect partner and the myth of the manic pixie dream girl.
Dano and Kazan are terrific (as are supporting players Chris Messina and Steve Coogan in small but essential roles), and directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris avoid the twee flourishes that often made their previous picture, Little Miss Sunshine, feel like an overlong sitcom. This one's a tougher sell, but it's so much better for it.