Does true love exists? A question so puzzling that it would be easier to solve quantum physics, but true love and its existence (or non-existence) is the subject of Charlyne Yi’s (mock) documentary, PAPER HEART. Yi, having never been in love herself, doesn’t understand what it is be truly be in love. So, along with filmmaker and friend Nicholas Jasenovec, Yi journeys across the US to find the meaning of true love.
The general response to PAPER HEART falls into two camps: those who love it, and those who don’t; there is no middle ground, and it is easy to understand this sentiment. Paper Heart can only be described as sweet, maybe a little to sweet for some people’s liking, but the uber-cuteness is the film’s ironic charm. In her road trip Charlyne queries the minds of old friends and new acquaintances including an old Harley-Davidson biker named Jester, a couple married for 50 years and Elvis at a Graceland Wedding Chapel. On a brief break in her journey, Charlyne meets Michael Cera, and she begins her own personal journey into love (or what seems like love) in the awkward glare of Nick’s ever present camera.
Paper Heart feels like three different shorts rather randomly mashed into a “hybrid mock-umentary”, blurring the lines between fact and fiction along the way. Unlike other films of the same genre, Borat comes to mind, in which the audience know the action taking place is false, in Paper Heart the relationship between Yi and Cera certainly leaves you guessing, if a little confused. Cera, in his same dorky, sensitive, awkward self, is a romantic complement to Yi’s equally geeky, cynical and quirky heroine. Furthermore, having Yi-Cera’s tentative relationship continuous intruded by chief nuisance Nick and the camera crew is the perfect platform for some truly hilarious moments and does produce the biggest laughs.
I’m going to be extremely subjective, Paper Heart is adorable, fun and a lovely little film. The mix of documentary and romantic comedy is refreshing and cheeky, some people may not like it, but screw them. The Yi-Cera relationship, once you accept it as fiction, doesn’t overshadow the humorous and endearing anecdotes; if anything it humanizes the various stages in love, from its tender awkward and tentative beginnings to its endearing recurrences in our life; love isn’t static or rigid, it is continuous, and Charlyne makes that point in her own Charlyne way. The crude stop-animation sequences are whimsical and retain a childlike wonder reminiscent of Michel Gondry’s Science of Sleep. Although, the ending feels rushed and unfinished, this should not detract from the meandering surreal delight that this film is. Paper Heart doesn’t answer it’s question, but it doesn’t try to, not really. If anything love resumes its rhetorical state, it just is.
PAPER HEART Review
FILM SYNOPSIS - Charlyne Yi embarks on a quest across America to make a documentary about the one subject she doesn't fully understand: Love.