Paper Heart (DVD)

Heart of the matter

A mix of documentary and fiction, Nicholas Jasenovec’s Paper Heart is a rather strange confection, but once you crack its quirky shell it proves to be rather sweet and satisfying.

Set up like a run of the mill doc, filmmaker Nick (actually played on screen by actor Jake M Johnson, the first clue that all is not as it seems) introduces us to Chinese American comedienne Charlyne Yi. Yi is cute in a peppy way but, despite her upbeat outlook, firmly believes that she will never find true love. So, she and Nick decide to travel across America, interviewing various ordinary people – from childhood sweethearts celebrating 50-plus years of marriage to a young couple on their wedding day – about the secrets behind lasting love. And then, at a party, she meets actor Michael Cera (Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist); his attraction to her is instantly apparent, whereas she takes some time to come around to his geeky charms. But sure enough, out of this chance encounter a relationship develop – all documented by Nick’s unblinking camera…

Whether you view it as a clever and insightful treatise on the fickle, indefinable nature of true love or a lightweight, rom-com mockumentary hybrid, there’s no denying the innate likability of Paper Heart. If you understand that most of it is scripted, even though the central conceit of documenting the nature of romance is based in universal truths (indeed, Cera and Yi had been dating for some time in real life when they made the film), you may find yourself swept up in it all. For it so clearly is a piece of extended performance art from the creative mind of Yi, a treatise on the clichés and forced feelings that are so often mistaken for genuine romance. The self that she is portraying on screen seems to be one facet of her personality distilled down to a childlike innocence, underlined by her use of paper dolls to act out the various tales of love and loss she hears along her journey. And, like Yi herself, the film may seem at times rather naïve in its outlook, but it’s also honest and entertaining. 4 stars

Extra Features
There’s a making of, plus interviews, deleted scenes, trailer and musical performances. 3 stars

Stars Charlyne Yi, Michael Cera
Director Nicholas Jasenovec
Distributor Anchor Bay Entertainment
Format DVD & Blu-ray
Released February 8

This review originally appeared in Little White Lies