Paper Heart

underdog's picture

Reviewer: James van Maanen
Rating (out of 5): ***½

How long can you play "adorable" before it curdles? I suspect each viewer will have his own limit.

For me, Charlyne Yi, whose adorable quotient is somewhere off the charts, hasn't come close to souring yet. From the first moments right through the finale of Paper Heart, the film that she stars in and has co-written (with director Nicholas Jasenovec), I just wanted to pull her to me, hug her ever so gently, tell her I love her and make everything aw-wight. Of course, she would run fleeing from this, as she probably would from most people's declarations. Which is part of her charm -- and believability. I am unfamiliar with her stand-up routine (we see a little of it in the film), but I venture to guess that this persona she shows us – sweet and innocent yet not that naïve – is so finely honed by now that's her schtick and her soul may have merged.

In Paper Heart, a combination real and faux documentary, Yi decides to get the goods on love. What it is, why and how it happens, and might she have some, too, please? The young lady treks across country, interviewing all kinds of people: old marrieds, still in love; a sad Southern divorcé; a gay couple in New York City; the folks who run a Las Vegas wedding chapel, among others. These interviews are fun, generally sweet, and fairly informative. Along the way, however, Yi is introduced to actor Michael Cera, and they hit it off. Soon, they're dating (and being photographed as part of this "film on love"), and the movie is then divided between alternating scenes of their courtship and the interviews. Both sections work well on their own but compliment each other nicely.

Cera surely is an interesting actor. Absolutely and exactly the same from film to film (from TV's Arrested Development to his breakout film role in Superbad, through Juno, Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist, even in Year One and now this), he is nonetheless utterly believable and great fun to watch. You never quite know what's going on inside him, and I suspect this holding back is what makes the guy so attractive and – in his odd way – irresistible. He and Yi make a fine team; you don't know from scene to scene just who's got the upper hand, and, in any case, that hand shifts back and forth.

In addition to the live action love (which is the faux part of the documentary--or at least I think it is) and its many interviews, the movie offers an entertaining array of animation effects – simple and primitive but sly and affecting. These are also adorable. And they don't curdle, either.


* You can comment on articles

* Private messaging to others in the GreenCine community -- and more features coming soon!

* Keep apprised of happenings in the world of films festivals, independent, international, cult, classic, horror movies and more!

* As a free registered member, you can upgrade your account to a rental subscription -- or if you want a rental subscription right away, click here.