Sunday, May 09, 2010

"Paper Heart" (2009) - Movie Review

Charlene Yi has a personality beckoning attention. She has the goofiest glasses and an undone hair. She looks 16 but she really is 24. She plays herself in a mix of documentary and mockumentary in “Paper Heart” along with Michael Cera as a version of himself which becomes a sweet romantic tale and then a little longer than expected. It is a creative production and an almost realistic portrayal of a fair relationship springing between Charlene and Michael.

Charlene Yi is a musician and comedian. You might have seen her in some of Judd Apatow’s film as this Asian girl in the background. She does stand up which I was not aware of but in her “Tonight’s Show with Conan O’Brien”, her act said much about her style. Here she plays herself as someone not believing in the idea of love and the possibility of her not having it at any point in her life. It is not that she is stubborn rather she has a very convincing feeling that the particular emotion in her body is absent and incapable of occurring. Nicholas Jasenovec is the director who in turn is played by Jake Johnson in the film. He takes on the challenge of Charlene trying to find whether there exists love and how various people define and feel it.

The film takes the crew along with Yi on cross country journey. The reason to flee into different states is merely to get a diverse collection of people from various region to get a wide spread opinion on love. The movie works and in its quasi documentary and fiction it brings together Michael Cera and Charlene Yi in the possible scenario of liking each other and eventually the possibility of them being in love. Charlene though is not sure about it and that becomes the twist the film plans on for a long time.

Cera has been very successful in playing himself of various kind in most of his films. Except for “Youth in Revolt” which I missed and very much be the same, rest of his roles have always been Michael Cera with different name in a different situation than the character. It is what the directors wants and the story beckons. Soon I believe he might be in trouble of playing himself alone and losing among the alternatives. Here he is good as he has been. He meets Charlene Yi and both have a connection which is the shyness. Michael comes forth and takes the step to approach Yi and Yi cautiously takes it up. The scenes when they hangout are realistically romantic than many of the rom-coms generated as the byproduct of money and star cast.

In between their romance, Yi interviews several people from real life on their journey towards this mystical feeling. The very first one is Mike Modrak, a divorcee and he explains how he got married only at the age of 43 and then got divorced because they were not the same person after sometime. He also explains how his true real love was someone long time ago before he met his ex-wife. After that he tells a story which is shown as a puppet show by Yi and “Paper Heart” becomes a different film than many others which attempt and aspire to be. The film has several other stories said in that manner which does aim for cheap sweetness but a Michel Gondry way of inventiveness.

“Paper Heart” though gets slightly buzzed as the end approaches and begins to sway away a while. It eventually comes to the stop we knew and ends in its sweet manner of story telling. Jake Johnson playing the director is another key element in between Michael and Charlene. As an aspiring director, he is hoping to get a cinematic ending to his documentary and on a personal level a happy one. Here the film takes another bold approach of reacting to that attitude than going hysterical about it.

“Paper Heart” is a convincing mocku-documentary and it makes Michael Cera and Charlene Yi a couple we would believe in. With so many flurry of impossible and incorrigible rom-coms, films like these need to have wide spread reach for those audience who cannot alone lose themselves cuddling to their loved ones but also find a genuine film made in a creative and inventive way.


Dusty & Erin said...

Maybe I will have to check it out, it seems good!

What is a mocku-mentory

Ashok said...

A mockumentary is something like "The Office" or "Parks and Recreation". This film blends in both that and documentary. I am sure you two will like it.