Thursday, August 12, 2010

Film Review - Paper Heart

Paper Heart (2009)

Director: Nick Jasenovec
Starring: Charlyne Yi, Michael Cera

Charlyne Yi, an actress and comedienne, realizes that she's never been in love, so she decides to make a documentary about the subject in love in an attempt to understand it, and why she hasn't experienced it. With her director Nick Jasenovec, (portrayed in the film by Jake M. Johnson) she visits cities across the country to ask people what love means to them and if they've found true love. Along the way she encounters elderly married couples, scientists and even a biker gang who love each other like a family, but it isn't until she meets actor Michael Cera, who pursues her, that she begins to realize that even though she may not know what love actually is or feels like, she does want to try to find out.

Paper Heart is a faux documentary, which is a tricky genre. Fake documentaries have a tendency to be flat and unoriginal, but almost always think they are the cleverest fish in the pond. I was actually kind of fooled by this film, because the actors and their progression were completely natural. There were very few forced scenes, and those that were, were treated with complete self-realization and deprecation and ultimately, for the betterment of the film. Yi never actually learns exactly what she wanted to know, but then again, who actually does know what love is? Seeking the answer to a question with such a subjective answer is pointless, and without a heroine like Yi, the film could have spiraled into a waste of time. She is tomboyish, clever and could be conceived as immature if she weren't so charming and sweet. Paired with Cera, doing his regular soft-spoken, sheepish and adorable bit, (that still works now but is going to get pretty old in a couple of years) the couple were completely engaging and natural. Whether or not they were a real couple (apparently the jury is out on this question) is inconsequential because their individual personalities and their chemistry made the evolution of their relationship fun to watch; I felt like I was in my teens again which was the last time I can remember when relationships didn't have a laundry list of caveats attached to them.

I think it is a compliment that it doesn't matter whether Paper Heart really was or wasn't a documentary because it is such a charming little movie with extremely likable players, and it ultimately put a smile on my face; a great accomplishment, considering its audience was a surly, jaded film critic.

3.5 out of 5 Stars

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