Directed by: Nicholas Jasenovec
Premise: A pseudo documentary that combines actual street interviews with a fictional subplot. Comedian Charlyne Yi hosts a documentary about love while (fictionally) falling in love with fellow actor Michael Cera.
What Works: Paper Heart assimilates the dramatic and the documentary very well, in part because the filmmaking style is consistent and thanks to the naturalistic acting of Charlyne Yi and Michael Cera. The movie makes for interesting viewing because Yi and her fellow filmmakers seem genuinely interested in the details of love and romance and the varieties of experiences in which it presents itself. The fictional love story between Yi and Cera is essential to the film as it gives Paper Heart a dramatic shape and allows the exposition of the documentary to take on a much more tangible reality. Paper Heart also speaks to the occasionally vulgar nature of documentary and reality storytelling as the cameras become an intrusion on private moments between Yi and Cera. But in that intrusion, the film does capture a certain awkwardness about love and romance that is antithetical to the polished fantasies that are so often produced by Hollywood studios.
What Doesn’t: The ending of Paper Heart is a misstep. Rather than allowing Yi to go through both the high of love and the low of heartbreak, the conclusion tries to leave the audience on a high but it betrays the authenticity of the film and the final coda comes across as a flippant attempt to distract the audience with goofiness rather than wrap up the themes of the story.
DVD extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes, interviews, trailers, and a music video.
Bottom Line: Despite the flaws of the ending, Paper Heart gets at something real about love and relationships. What it has to say is not entirely coherent but that messiness is a part of the film’s appeal and authenticity.
Episode: #276 (February 14, 2010)