It’s a tale straight from the pages of Stuff Woody Allen Likes: wunderkind novelist Calvin Weir-Fields has been struggling to write a follow-up to his debut for 10 years. Then one day, he starts writing about a girl who appears in his dreams. Before you can say ‘manic pixie dream girl alert!’ the delightfully hipster-chic Ruby Sparks not only comes to life, but is living happily in Calvin’s house, exactly as she’s been written on the page.
If it all sounds to twee to be true, don’t worry – there are plenty of playful couple montages backed with French love songs to make things worse (interspersed, mercifully, with cameos from Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas and Steve Coogan). To be fair, Paul Dano (Calvin) does have a kind of sad-sack charm (he seems to have borrowed Nic Cage’s giant, tragic eyebrows) and Zoe Kazan is undeniably the kind of girl you’d want to magically appear in your house and start cooking meatloaf. But we never quite get close enough to either of them, and all the really interesting questions this movie wants to ask about free will and control in relationships end up lost in the soft-focus.