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Charlyne Yi embarks on a quest across America to make a documentary about the one subject she doesn't fully understand: Love. Michael Cera becomes the object of her affection. Weaving together reality and fantasy, Paper Heart combines elements of documentary and traditional storytelling to get at modern romance. Written by
"Paper Heart" falls in line with the "Bruno/Borat" style of film-making, where viewers will probably be asking themselves, "How much of this is real and how much is staged?" Maybe in this case it isn't staged at all. I personally don't know, but I have to say "Paper Heart" feels very real, which is an obvious difference to those two Sacha Baron Cohen movies.
The plot has a documentary crew following around Charlyne Yi who's looking to understand the concept of love, by traveling around America and interviewing people. Charlyne is an offbeat young woman who doesn't believe in true love, herself. She could easily be a geeky friend of Summer from "(500) Days of Summer", another recent Sundance romcom. Charlyne meets Michael Cera at a house party, who acts just like the characters he played in "Juno" and "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist". Charlyne and Michael soon become a couple, although Charlyne not surprisingly retains her status of true love.
While on the road, she meets couples who share their feelings of love and give stories on how they met. Some of these stories are re-enacted in a very whimsical fashion, by using cardboard, cotton, marker, etc. If you saw "The Science of Sleep", they're similar to those fantasy scenes, except those probably were more time consuming to make compared to "Paper Heart". While these scenes are still cute and funny, they are a bit predictable and, yes, pretentious. But hey, I can give credit to the filmmakers for trying to be creative. In fact, the final scene in the movie is the best, because it parodies those scenes in an awesomely over-the-top fashion.
The movie itself is charming and often funny, but it does wear out its welcome after awhile. I felt like there were scenes that could be cut shorter or didn't really have to be included, like the interview with kids at a playground about love. It seems like it was done just for fun or for timing. It does have one good line where a girl says she's in love with Chris Brown (or someone named Brown) and says to Charlyne, "At least I admit it."
"Paper Heart" doesn't have any real direction, but neither does life. Are Charlyne and Michael made for each other? What if their relationship doesn't last? It's something the filmmakers just have to work with. From what I got, there's no defining message about what love is, other than it's to each his own.
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