…I’m not talking about characters we read about and say they come to life on the page. All writers aspire to that. : ) I’m talking about the thought that the mind of an artist/writer could actually bring to life a physical character merely through the power of his own creativity and imagination.
I love magical realism, so stay with me here. To my mind, that means a blending of magical elements with the real world, or the world we know. Even though the reader/viewer understands the seeming impossibility of the situation, there is a seductive whisper of, “What if?” that draws them in and holds them captive.
I think it was Pratchett who said magical realism is just a fancy term for fantasy. Whatever! I like it. : ) I love the thought that there is so much more to our world than we know or understand. It’s spine tingling to think that we use such a small percentage of our brain, and if we could expand that use and really delve into our imaginations we could create something truly awesome.
This is a photo of some of my writer pals at a recent LARA chapter meeting. Can you feel the collective energy? I think of our motto as, “We Make Stuff Up.” Anyway, back to the purpose of this post. Yes, believe it or not, there is a purpose.
The movie Ruby Sparks, deals with a frustrated boy genius, living in Los Angeles, who wrote the next great American novel at age nineteen. He had huge success. Fast forward ten years and he’s visiting a therapist because he can’t write. His love interest of five years has walked out on him. He’s shy, has a certain intellectual arrogance, strong control issues, and is self-absorbed. And yet, he’s adorable. Paul Dano plays the role of Calvin and does a fine job of showing his nerdiness and his neediness. His only friend is his brother, played by Chris Messina. Throw in a young woman, a lovely dog named Scotty, and you have a romantic comedy told from the male perspective.
A vision of a young woman comes to Calvin and he begins to write about her. He creates her. He falls in love with his character and imagines she is his dream love interest. Zoe Kasan plays the role of Ruby (and is also the screen writer) and is interesting, quirky, and loveable. She comes to life and shows up in Calvin’s home. Of course Calvin questions his sanity and confides only in his brother.
There is a zany, sweet tone to the story and it never succumbs to cheap jokes. It’s light, funny, flirty and almost dreamlike. The trouble starts when Calvin realizes Ruby is visible/real to everyone else. He has complete control of Ruby’s moods through typing his thoughts onto paper. He can make her do anything he wants and in knowing that you understand and feel the pain Calvin is going through. He must question his values. He really loves her and wants and needs this relationship. How much can he manipulate his partner, is it right to do that? Will he create a monster? Will he become the monster? Will he have to let her go? What would happen if he destroyed the manuscript? There are so many questions. : )
There are also wonderful brief roles from Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas, who are older hippies living in Big Sur. Bening is the mother of Calvin, and Banderas is her partner. They add color and flavor to an already colorful story. There’ll be no spoilers here but just know that this movie comes highly recommended by me. It isn’t earth shattering, but it is honest and real and raises some interesting questions about relationships, control, and creativity. I promise you’ll leave the theater in a better mood than when you arrived.
What do you think about fantasy, and magic, and have you read or seen anything recently that spoke to you?