Review: Paper Heart
PLOT: Charlene Yi (the giggly Asian girl from Knocked Up) doesnt 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 dont mean that in the what does it mean? vain or the so inventive Ive never seen anything like it sense. Rather, its puzzling cuz I cant figure out who the hell decided it was a good idea to make this movie. To me theres nothing more boring than a documentary about love. But lets 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 Martins stoner girlfriend in Knocked Up, but thats pretty much all Id seen of her. And shes a very interesting and often funny personality here. You cant tell whether shes 13 or 33 years old (shes actually 23), and you cant tell if that smile on her face comes from genuine happiness or social nervousness. Also, the way she talks is so unique, its like shes the female Christopher Walken. Unfortunately, she doesnt 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 Charlenes scenes with Cera (which are easily the films 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, youre 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 thats the case, we didnt need a cleverly-conceived mockumentary to tell us that. We can just check out whatever rom-com is currently airing on cable.
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