‘Ruby Sparks’ sparkles in rural East Sussex


Having decamped to what my colleagues call ‘the countryside’ in the summer, my closest movie-viewing haunt is in the small town of Hailsham. The Hailsham Pavilion, to give it its proper title, is a thing of beauty. It opened as a ‘picture palace’ in 1921 showing The Kid starring Charlie Chaplin as its debut film presentation. At the time it was regarded by some residents of Hailsham as a ‘new fangled upstart of a cinema’. Today, just over 90 years later, it is a gem of a cinema run by volunteers who are clearly passionate about film and the building itself. It also has the most marvellous sweets kiosk that reminds me of my old school tuck shop all those moons ago.


Hailsham Pavilion 1921

The public attended the official opening in 1921.

Hailsham Pavilion

The cinema as it appears today.

So it was to this wonderful little sanctuary that I dragged my mother on a very cold December evening to see the film Ruby Sparks. Previously she has had to sit through Black Swan (can you imagine, with your mother!), Bridesmaids (equally embarrassing, although slightly more entertaining and Chris O’Dowd is quite cute), The Iron Lady (Meryl Streep and Jim Broadbent aside, not my cup of tea and prompted endless discussion as my mother is Argentinian) to name but a few.

Thankfully she enjoys the cinema and watching films as much as I do if not more so and I have come to the conclusion that she also has a very lewd sense of humour. And she absolutely loved Little Miss Sunshine, so we were on to a winner as Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, the husband-and-wife team responsible for that cinematic breath of fresh air, directed Ruby Sparks.

Ruby Sparks film poster

The film poster for 'Ruby Sparks'.

For all you musos out there, Dayton and Faris’ background is in music video direction and they have been the creative brains behind such delights as The Zephyr Song (Red Hot Chili Peppers), All Around the World (Oasis), Pets (Porno for Pyros), More than Words (Extreme), Sing (Travis), Been Caught Stealing (Jane’s Addiction) and the list goes on…


Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris promoting Ruby Sparks

Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton – the stars and the directors.

Right, back to Ruby Sparks and Hailsham. Having booked the tickets online I was amazed to find that we had the cinema entirely to ourselves. It was brilliant. My mum thought it was the best thing ever and I can see her now regaling her Bridge chums. Anyway, I digress.

Hailsham Pavilion interior.

The interior of Hailsham Pavilion.

So, the film… Written and starring the enviably talented young thing that is Zoe Kazan, also starring her real-life partner Paul Dano (the kid who took a vow of silence in the aforementioned Little Miss Sunshine), and a rather fantastic-looking Antonio Banderas (believe me, he manages to make a pair of dungarees look sexy), Annette Bening being her fabulous self, Steve Coogan being errrr Steve Coogan, and a very cute dog (all the best films have them).

Zoe Kazan in Ruby Sparks

The very talented Zoe Kazan.

What can I say? A brilliant musical score (courtesy of Nick Urata) and cinematography (Matthew Libatique, who graces the pages of Ilex’s very successful FilmCraft Cinematography), beautifully acted, laugh-out-loud funny in places (I refuse to use the acronym), tragic in others, and one of the most emotionally disturbing scenes towards the end of the film that I have seen for a while. The locations are stylish in an LA-kind of way. I was particularly jealous of the various pools that feature throughout and there’s a tree house I am coveting thrown in the mix too. It’s a modern-day take on Pygmalion and a very watchable one at that. Would I watch it again? Probably as there is some hilarious dialogue, particularly between Paul Dano’s character Calvin and his rather more testosterone-fuelled brother Harry.

Swimming pool in Ruby Sparks

One of the many swimming pools featured in the film.

And the reason why I coerced my mother into watching said movie? It was all in the name of work…Sigh. Ruby Sparks is featured in FilmCraft Producing having been produced by Ron Yerxa and Albert Berger and I love any excuse to go to the cinema…

Albert Berger, Zoe Kazan and Ron Yerxa working on Ruby Sparks

Albert Berger (left), Zoe Kazan and Ron Yerxa (right) working on 'Ruby Sparks'.


Posted by

Natalia Price-Cabrera

Senior Project Editor at Ilex Press Natalia loves all things film-related. She thoroughly enjoys 'making' books and strives to broaden her design and photographic knowledge on a daily basis. Frustratingly she also spends a lot of time pulling her hair out.

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