Charlyne (Charlyne Yi) embarks on a quest across America to make a documentary about the one subject she doesn't know much about . . . love. As she and director Jasenovec (Jake M. Johnson) search for answers and advice, they interview an eclectic array of friends, bikers, novelists, and children who offer a diverse view on modern romance. Shortly after filming begins, Charlyne meets actor Michael Cera. As their relationship develops on camera, the pursuit to discover the nature of love takes on a new urgency when Yi risks losing the person closest to her heart.
Review by Louise Keller:
Compelling when you least expect it, this feature-documentary hybrid juggles fact and fiction in dizzying fashion when actress/comedienne Charlyne Yi embarks on a road trip whose destination is love. The film's success relies on our being captivated by Charlyne as she first reveals her cynicism for love and subsequently starts questioning people of all ages and persuasions around the country. I found much of the interviewing style irritating as more attention is placed on Charlyne than the people she meets, but things turn around and start to heat up when actor Michael Cera is introduced into the film's fabric as Charlyne's potential real-life love. This is where the dizzying part starts, as we start to wonder what is real and what is being fabricated for the cameras. This turned the film around for me, and coupled with the inclusion of delightful puppet recreation segments, made me reassess it as a creatively clever and involving work.
Yi and director Nicholas Jasenovic have collaborated on a screenplay that starts out as a documentary. Charlyne basically plays herself, a tiny, sweet-faced, messy-haired, multi-cultural dynamo who asks naïve questions of actors, children, elderly couples, gays, Elvis impersonators, songwriters, divorce lawyers, bikies, high school sweethearts, psychics, chemistry professors - and even Seth Rogan, who says 'Your love glass is half-full.' The best moments here are those that ring true - like the interview with the couple who have been married for 50 years, who recall their courtship on a Harley Davidson. There's another with a middle-aged legal couple whose story about an incident involving Gucci loafers, a truck and bad weather is priceless.
But the film's sticky centre is all about the evolving relationship between Charlyne and Michael Cera, whose onscreen meeting is at a party. It begins as a non-event, but the cameras are ever present as the relationship continues. Real or unreal is for you to decide, but much of it is utterly convincing and Cera delivers the same nerdy, awkward character we know from his performances in Superbad and Juno. Actor Jake M. Johnson plays director Nicholas Jasenovic, who is quick to offer Charlyne advice, and the camera often swings past the two lovebirds to the keenly watching camera crew who often have the decency to look embarrassed. The film certainly pushes the envelope within the Charlyne / Michael relationship, which in the end is what keeps the paper heart from flying adrift.
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PAPER HEART (M)
CAST: Charlyne Yi, Michael Cera, Jake M. Johnson
PRODUCER: Sandra Murillo, Elise Salomon
DIRECTOR: Nicholas Jasenovic
SCRIPT: Nicholas Jasenovic, Charlyne Yi
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jay Hunter
EDITOR: Ryan Brown
MUSIC: Charlyne Yi, Michael Cera
RUNNING TIME: 89 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Anchor Bay Films
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 24, 2009