Previewing in London as part of the London Film Festival, Paper Heart is a thoroughly modern take on the love story that combiines elements of traditional storytelling, documentary-style filmmaking and romantic fantasy. Opening to rave reviews in the US, and a winner at the recent Sundance Film Festival, the film follows Charleyne Yi, as she sets out across America to make a "documentary" about love. Sure, this sounds pretty cliché, but with an award-winning script and stellar cast, the film steers well clear of the typical fingers-down-throat, vomit-inducing "chick flick" category.
It's a love story (hang in there...) but it's not your typically banal "boy meets girl" Hollywood fare. Charlyne (aided by director Nicholas Jasenovec) is on a quest and the strange cast of real scientists, bikers and children she meets along the way make her adventure pretty damn funny. Of course, no love story would be complete without the obligatory love interest, and in due course, he does rear his teenage head. Michael Cera (of Superbad fame) plays the romantic lead with all the engaging doe-eyed charisma he displayed in Juno.
What really impresses with Paper Heart is the clear conviction in the project from start to finish. The film really belongs to Yi and Jasenovec, who jointly conceived the concept Their intense belief in the movie shines through, lending credibility to the finished product. And credible it should be; the film was always initially intended as a documentary. It was with reluctance that Yi found herself the star. “I wasn’t planning on being on camera,” she says. “I originally wanted to shoot a documentary because I felt the interview subjects were more interesting than me. I find myself annoying sometimes, and I’m always uncomfortable when the cameras are there. It’s like a magnifying glass.” Reluctant or not, Charlyne eventually accepted the role. “Nick came up with the idea of creating a narrative side to the film, a fictional half to mash-up with the documentary, creating a hybrid whole”. And it’s this hybrid quality that makes Paper Heart feel so utterly fresh and unique.