In the quasi-documentary “Paper Heart,” Charlyne Yi has co-written a neat twist on the romantic comedy by blurring identity and reality.
The premise is this: Yi, playing herself, claims to not believe in love. She agrees to let her direc tor friend Nicholas Jasenovec (the only person in the movie who doesn’t play himself; he’s portrayed by Jake M. Johnson) follow her around with a small film crew while she talks about love with various people.
The crew accompanies Yi to a house party where she meets Michael Cera. There’s an obvious chemistry between them, and he follows her around the party. On a one-to-10 scale of twitchy awkwardness, Cera and Yi both rank as solid nines, presenting together a veritable library of nervous tics and stilted speaking styles. In other words, they’re perfect together in an unexpected way, like cheese with apple pie.
Two things that make “Paper Heart” work. First, the house-of-mirrors confusion created by the actors using their real names creates a novel feel for the movie where documentary and fiction are indistinguishable. Secondly, the charm and wit of the actors themselves is just entertaining.
While Yi, Cera and their pals are painfully hip “ almost to the point of being annoying “ they are also genuinely funny and smart. It helps “Paper Heart ” meet the most important criterion of any romantic comedy: One has to like the characters, or the whole thing is pointless.