Paper Heart (Nick Jasenovec, 2009): USA

Reviewed by Byron Potau. Viewed as part of the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival.

Paper HeartIn this documentary/fiction hybrid film, Paper Heart, real life comedian Charlyne Yi proclaims to not believe in love and goes on the road with her director, Nick Jasenovic (played by Jake Johnson) to see if she can find out what love is or if it exists at all.

Charlyne interviews divorcees, high school sweethearts, romance novelists, doctors, and biology professors on the subject of love, some of their stories receiving an amusing paper cut out reenactment to illustrate the stories as they are being told.

A fictional romance for Charlyne begins to brew as she meets actor Michael Cera. As their relationship begins to take shape it becomes the focus of the documentary and Charlyne may have to admit that she is finally beginning to know what love is.

The mixture of documentary and fiction makes this a difficult film to review, mainly because the fiction part is filmed as though it were a documentary and director Jasenovic does an incredible job of blending this seamlessly into the real documentary. The viewer will sense what is documentary and what is fiction, but they will always be fighting the feeling that it is all a documentary because the two sides are so entwined around each other. There is actually some truth to Yi and Cera’s relationship as they were dating before filming began. However, rather than bounce back and forth between the two it would probably be best for the viewer to think of it all as a documentary and separate the fiction later.

Charlyne Yi makes for a very quirky but funny and cute protagonist, and Michael Cera brings all the appeal of his personality and is so incredibly likeable that the girls will find him adorable and the men will understand why. We never see the two of them acting as their dialogue is so natural and unusual and their chemistry together so incredible that we cannot help but believe them. They are especially good at portraying their awkward moments as they try to go about their relationship in front of an intrusive camera and crew. Their relationship is the heart and soul of the film and we get totally invested in these goofy charmers as we want so badly for them to end up together.

Playing the director, Nick, Jake Johnson is likewise able to make us believe he really is Nick directing Charlyne and intruding on her relationship with Michael for the sake of the documentary. Since he is the only one not playing himself I can finally say what a fine performance he gives.

Not your typical love story, this film is, nevertheless, a perfect date movie. There is one memorable scene after another and the film is a total delight. There is even a great song, reminiscent of The Pixies, that Charlene writes and sings about Michael. This is a very unusual and original film, but hopefully, it will still get the attention and audience it deserves.


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