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Audiences will fall in love with Charlyne Yi in Paper Heart

paper-heart-2“True love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about and few have seen,” is how the great French writer Francois de La Rochefoucauld summed up love. Dictionary.com describes love as “a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.” T.S. Elliot gave his opinion on the subject at hand by stating “love is most nearly itself when here and now cease to matter.” Basically, with the few clicks of a mouse, you can easily find out what lots of other people think love is. But does that really tell you anything?

For Charlyne Yi, love didn’t exist. So she decided to get together with friend and film director Nick Jasenovec and set out on a journey across America to find out if love does exist and what it truly is. Along the way, Charlyne meets and becomes interested in a boy. This is the plot of the new half documentary, half film, Paper Heart, starring the lovely Miss Yi, who also co-wrote the script, and directed by fellow co-writer and first time director, Jasenovec.

The film is half documentary in that the idea actually came from Charlyne Yi not believing in love and wanting to find out what others think. Of course, the best way to do this is to set out on a road trip and interview various couples to learn what true love is to them. On her journey, Yi encounters many fascinating people, including, quite possibly, the world’s worst psychic (seriously, she’s the worst). All the couples Yi interviews are actual people giving their thoughts on love with cameos by Seth Rogen and Demetri Martin among others sharing their feelings as well.

The film is half narrative in that the love story between Charlyne and Michael Cera is something that was written into the script, although, Cera is playing himself. Another element that lends to the fictional portion of the film is that Jasenovec is played by actor Jake Johnson. (At the Phoenix premiere and Q&A for Paper Heart, I learned this was done because Jasenovec says he’s a terrible actor. So bad apparently, that he can’t play himself.)

The movie is put together perfectly. The way the script blends with the interviewing of everyday people, it can be hard to tell fantasy from fiction which helps to suck the viewer in. While the romance between Yi and Cera is scripted, their courtship comes off across as much more real that the typical on screen romance Hollywood throws at us these days, awkward pauses included (although it’s safe to say Cera has trademarked awkwardness).

Jasenovec’s directing is brilliant. The film looks like a documentary, however, they strayed away from using the characteristic zoom seen in almost every “mockumentary” out there. In fact, I don’t believe they used zoom once, which earns my applause for Jasenovec. The use of Yi’s marionettes as transitions between the interviewing of different couples was a nice, little quirky touch. All in all, Jasenovec has crafted a beautiful looking, highly enjoyable film. (Hooray for a fellow Phoenician succeeding!)

From start to finish, Paper Heart is an absolute delight. The idea for the film is so simple, yet people’s opinions on the subject of love vary so much that it makes for a very interesting viewing. In a year that has been filled with great movies (albeit, some really bad ones too) to this point, Paper Heart is easily one of 2009’s best. While it isn’t a film for everyone, it is a cute, little (about 88 minutes) movie that people can relate with.

Currently, the film is only playing in select theatres but it’s not too hard to find (www.paperheart-movie.com has a listing of all theatres showing the film), so get out and find it. It’ll be one of the best things you do this year. I promise you.


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My name is Chris Coffel from Phoenix, Arizona. I love film and the Phoenix Suns. I write movie reviews for Trashwire and write about the Phoenix Suns for Downtown Phoenix Journal. I'm also the co-host of a movie podcast focusing on fringe cinema, the Dark of the Matinee. Please subscribe to my show on iTunes. I write about the Suns here: downtownphoenixjournal.com I make movies here: youtube.com/phxpro I talk about movies here: facebook.com/darkofthematineepodcast

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  • hilldog

    Well done on the review, but can’t say I agree 100% on the movie. I would have wanted the movie to stay more within the documentary and not jump to a scripted romance based on reality. I felt a little ripped off on that part. I mean, it all felt so “Indy” with quirky girl and awkward boy falling for each other etc.
    Love Michael Cera, but he needs to show us something more and Yi got a little annoying after a while. She is good in a bit part, but a whole movie of her…not for me, thanks.

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