Movie review: Paper Heart

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Love-skeptical performer Charlyne Yi, star of Paper Heart, wasn't immune to romantic daydreams as a child. As an adult, however, she questions true love's existence, so she and filmmaker Nick Jasenovec embark on a documentary about the subject and a tour of interviews with various Americans. The project's soon challenged by Yi's introduction to Superbad star Michael Cera and the romance that ensues.

In the part-doc and part-fiction movie, actual director Jasenovec is played by actor Jake M. Johnson. And off-screen, Yi now says the real-life romance alleged in the media between her and Cera never existed, while Cera's past statements contradict that. Ultimately, where everything falls on the truth-fiction divide isn't really what's important.

The alleged romantic relationship is just one of several ways for Yi and Jasenovec, who co-wrote, to address the central question without attacking it directly. Another is the parade of love-experienced, real-life characters Yi meets with around the U.S. She illustrates several of their stories with handmade paper puppets and rudimentary animations.

It all plays together like a meta, DIY variation on When Harry Met Sally, a description that might make the cynics out there cringe, but Paper Heart sort of worked for me.

Though the movie isn't hilarious, Yi's laugh is infectious. Cameos by famous friends like Seth Rogen and Demetri Martin feel forced, but interview subjects are mostly casual and genuine. And the movie ultimately makes a valid point: whether or not true love exists, even cynics like Yi want to believe.

"Paper Heart"

Now playing at AMC Lennox

Grade: B-