Review: Paper Heart
PLOT: Charlene Yi (the giggly Asian girl from Knocked Up) doesn’t believe in love. For some reason, she and her director friend Nicholas (Jake Johnson) decide to make a documentary about it. Things get complicated along the way when Charlene meets Michael Cera and starts to…[gulp]…fall in love with him.
This film was reviewed as part of the Los Angeles Film Festival
REVIEW: PAPER HEART is a puzzling little film. I don’t mean that in the “what does it mean?” vain or the “so inventive I’ve never seen anything like it” sense. Rather, it’s puzzling cuz I can’t figure out who the hell decided it was a good idea to make this movie. To me there’s nothing more boring than a documentary about love. But let’s get something straight here, this is NOT a documentary. They do a half-decent job of convincing you that it is, initially. But once the film reaches the halfway point, the conventionalities of Hollywood love stories all start to come into play, and the uniquity of Paper Heart goes right down the toilet.
Another bizarre aspect of the film is Charlene Yi as the lead. I loved her in her minor role as Martin’s stoner girlfriend in Knocked Up, but that’s pretty much all I’d seen of her. And she’s a very interesting and often funny personality here. You can’t tell whether she’s 13 or 33 years old (she’s actually 23), and you can’t tell if that smile on her face comes from genuine happiness or social nervousness. Also, the way she talks is so unique, it’s like she’s the female Christopher Walken. Unfortunately, she doesn’t quite have the acting chops or emotional range that Walken does, and after 60 minutes on screen, her one trick shtick gets a bit old. Seeing a more notable celebrity playing themself instead may have been a bit more interesting to watch.
Other than Charlene’s scenes with Cera (which are easily the film’s best sequences), she travels around the country with the “director” and interviews what seem to be real people and couples about their thoughts on love. The only reason I think this aspect of the film may not be fake is because most of these people and their stories are so incredibly boring. We get it, you’re in love, who cares? We all know love exists, so this film tells us nothing profound, even if it seems to think it does.
There are a few clever “animated” sequences throughout the flick, which are pretty original and provide some much needed fun. And of course, Michael Cera drops some memorable one-liners. But in the end, the film just gets too gushy, which is ironic seeing as Yi seems to pride herself as being anything but. And yet she wrote the film, so that leads me to ask, what is Paper Heart trying to say? That real life is like the movies? That everyone wants to find love at the end of the day? If that’s the case, we didn’t need a cleverly-conceived mockumentary to tell us that. We can just check out whatever rom-com is currently airing on cable.