I really really really wanted to love this movie. I ended up kind of liking it but only sort of.
(PS- I talk a bit about the plot, more than I usually do, so don't read if you want to be surprised)
I love Paul Dano and this is directed by Jonathan Dayton who also directed Little Miss Sunshine which I adore. But alas, this one fell short. From the preview we know that Calvin (Dano) is a young formerly successful writer and he is struggling. We also know that he starts writing about a fictional woman, Ruby, with whom he becomes smitten. Then she magically appears in his life. She is the product of his imagination and thus under his control.
The beginning of the relationship is intoxicating and cute. They giggle and love and float around. All the while it's known that Calvin could have more of an upper hand if he wanted to (he writes it; she does it) but things are so awesome, so why mess?
Then life starts to get real- Ruby starts feeling isolated in the relationship and Calvin begins to feel threatened as she exerts more independence. This is where the film got dark, unfunny and at times really uncomfortable. There is one pivotal scene where the extent of his control is shown and it is simply disturbing. You can't help but realize that he is hating and controlling himself in that moment as Ruby is an extension of him. Or is she? In the aftermath, Calvin realizes the errors of his ways and essentially releases her and frees her from any memories of their experiences together.
It's never made clear if Calvin actually learned his lesson or if he was just so ashamed of himself and how he behaved (the level of self hate and need for control he exudes at times is profound) as he moves on to write about his experience with Ruby, which becomes his next book.
The ending didn't feel deserved- I wasn't sure he deserved a second, clean slate, chance with a woman that looks exactly like Ruby (interestingly, this woman's name is not revealed, a clever touch, I thought).
It felt like two movies in one. Or, more that there was a light movie planned that mutated into something dark and then back to light romance. The imbalance was distracting, inconsistent and unpleasant. Ultimately it left me wanting to watch Stranger than Fiction again- a GREAT original movie about the sometimes gray area between fiction and real life.
I give Ruby a 6/10. It certainly held my curiosity but I ultimately didn't like where it ended up.