CD Review: Ruby Sparks
Out of the ashes of superheroes and the mid-summer slump rises a gem of a film. RUBY SPARKS stars Paul Dano as a lonely bestselling wunderkind facing writer’s block. When he meets the girl of his dreams (Zoe Kazan), he realizes she is actually his fictional creation come to life. Real-life couple Dano and Kazan bring their characters to vibrant life and Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE) direct with a quirky, light hand that gives Kazan’s smart, witty script (a surefire Oscar contender) further buoyancy. Nick Urata underscores this magical flight of fancy with a score encompassing heartbreaking poignancy and high drama.
Urata has been building a name for himself in Hollywood as frontman for his band DeVotchka (featured on the soundtrack to LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE) as well as a composer (I LOVE YOU, PHILIP MORRIS). For RUBY SPARKS, Urata mixes a Baroque sensibility with contemporary harmonies and a tinge of Middle Eastern mysticism for exotic flavor.
Arpeggiated and tremolo strings and a dramatic brass underscore the terror of the blank page in tracks like “Creation” and “Miserable”. The arpeggiated figures take on an even more furious life as Calvin discusses the thrill of his creation, “Ruby Sparks”. Steadily pulsating lower string quarter notes and a staccato violin line form the backbone of “Writer’s Block.”
In tracks like “Inspiration” and “I Was Waiting For You,” a wordless female vocal line brings a purity and innocence to that elusive voice of the muse. In “Inseparable,” a staccato clarinet, flute and bass perform a tangled waltz as the French horn growls its line and the muse duets with itself in a manic, Lakmé-inspired duet.
Ruby Sparks – I Was Waiting For You
Click Track: I Was Waiting For You
The high point of the album is “You’re a Genius,” a six-minute tone poem incorporating many of the primary themes on a journey through through the dramatic, emotional highs and lows of people rushing toward a relationship flameout. The ethereal strings of “The Past Released Her” capture the damage of post-relationship heartbreak. Adam Peters (composer of SAVAGES) adds a yearning cello solo to “She Came to Me” and “Can We Start Over.”
Ruby Sparks – The Past Released
Click Track: The Past Released Her
Two of the tracks include snippets of dialogue. While I’m not usually a big fan of dialogue on soundtracks, Kazan’s words are so effective and so true that they provide lovely bookends to the album, illuminating two powerful moments in the film. The album also includes five source cues, including Plastic Bertrand’s punk classic “Ça Plane Pour Moi,” that don’t distract from the listening experience. However, while these cues are enjoyable, they will probably mean more to fans of the film.
“Falling in love is an act of magic and so is writing,” says Calvin. I fell in love with RUBY SPARKS and with Urata’s jewel of a score. For a cynical old bachelor like me, that is magic.