Anchor Bay // 2009 // 88 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // December 9th, 2009
A story about love that's taking on a life of its own.
Nicholas Jasenovec's Paper Heart is a charming little film about a girl's journey to discover the meaning of love. I wouldn't go as far as calling it a masterpiece, but the movie's comic touch and spark of romance certainly make for an entertaining and often quite eccentric viewing experience. Paper Heart was received well at the Sundance Film Festival where it also won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award, but its following theatrical release was unfortunately too limited.
Playing a fictionalized version of herself, American comedienne Charlyne Yi embarks on a mission, traveling around the country to find out what true love is all about. You see, Charlyne doesn't really believe in true love herself, which is exactly why she decides to recruit her friend Nicholas Jasenovec and make a documentary about what people from all over think about modern romance. Things start to get a little tricky though when she meets Michael Cera, a charming young boy who's after the one thing Charlyne doesn't seem to be able to give away: her heart.
Paper Heart is what I call a cute comedy: a light, yet very entertaining film that boasts plenty of energy, a bunch of solid laughs, an interesting enough theme, and an eccentric cast talented enough to authentically portray a couple of adorable characters. It is no surprise then that Charlyne Yi really owns this movie. From the funny aspect of her often awkward posture and character to her dry humor and overall cuteness, she knows exactly how to entertain her viewers. Additionally, Yi co-wrote Paper Heart and co-created (with Michael Cera) most of the film's music.
Although it's a fiction piece, the movie is structured much like a documentary, with many actors reacting directly to the cameras surrounding Charlyne. When she's not hanging out with Michael Cera, she travels around the country interviewing married couples, best friends, scientists, kids, and even romance novelists. Each of her interviewees have different perspectives on true love and relationships, which Charlyne hopes will help her understand the concept of love.
The second part of Paper Heart focuses more on her special relationship with Cera, whose screen time is rather limited this time. That said, he still manages to pull off a enjoyable performance that helps build some of the film's more romantic atmosphere. Jasenovec's film is not necessarily an enlightening experience, but as a simple movie following a rather insecure girl trying to figure out whether true love really exists, Paper Heart is more than satisfying. It follows a very creative formula of telling a story without losing its realistic effect, and the result is by all means quite wonderful.
On Blu-ray, Paper Heart looks surprisingly awesome. The disc carries a solid 1.78:1 widescreen transfer, and the high-definition image remains crisp and sharp throughout. This is a film that occasionally boasts sequences with strong colors, and it all looks great from start to finish. The Dolby TruHD 5.1 sound transfer performs just as nicely, making this one of the better Blu-ray releases I've seen this year in terms of technical aspects.
The bonus material on the Paper Heart Blu-ray disc is loaded with entertaining features. Besides seventeen funny deleted scenes, the special features include eight interviews about love with comedians such as Bill Hader and Paul Rust, a cute music video featuring Yi and Cera, and some of Yi's eccentric musical performances. Also included are two hilarious featurettes. "Paper Heart Uncut" is a collection of bloopers from the set, while "Making Of" provides a better insight into how the film was shot. Disc Two contains a digital copy you can easily transfer to portable media players.
Heartfelt and mostly artistic, Paper Heart is an original experiment that deals with a universal theme but may appeal more to a younger audience. The film is structured, written, and shot well, and Charlyne Yi's energy helps keep the plot moving ahead at a solid pace. Whether or not you believe in true love, this is a Sundance favorite I can only recommend.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Deleted Scenes
* Music Video
* Musical Performances
* Digital Copy
* Official Site