Review: Paper Heart

The notion of a pseudo-mockumentary about musician/comedian Charlyne Yi (from Knocked Up) investigating the idea of love who then falls for actor Michael Cera (Yi’s real-life ex-boyfriend, playing himself) failed to ignite my cinematic passions. It sounded self-regarding, self-promoting and worst of all, pointless. Hollywood hipster posturing at its worst.

But I was being needlessly cynical. This isn’t a profound film by any stretch of the imagination, but it offers up some harmlessly cute observations and a few funny moments. Yi’s diminutive, decidedly non-cinematic presence and halting delivery makes her impossible to dislike, despite the apparent calculation behind her coyness. Cera is his typical deadpan self, a little more reserved than usual maybe.

Although Yi states at the beginning she doesn’t believe in love, the film is aggressively romantic from the get-go, massaging its homespun talking-head sound bites with lilting indie music and low-fi would-be Gondry-esque puppetry.

As the documentary aspects of the film give way to the narrative parts, it’s hard to truly invest in the “love” story unfolding. Determining the exact level of artifice never stops being distracting (there’s an actor credited with playing the director of the film), and the emotional climax is far from earned. But the film rarely sinks below quite interesting, if only for the fun of playing ‘spot the Apatow actor in the background’.