Paper Heart was a film released in 2009, starring Charlyne Yi and Michael Cera. In it, Ms. Yi tries to find out what romantic love is because she has never experienced it. Throughout, she conducts interviews with friends and strangers, most of whom think she’s weird.
Nick (actor Jake Johnson who represents the director Nick Jasenovec, who was too busy directing to appear on screen) is her sounding board. At a small party in L.A., he introduces her to actor Michael Cera.
At first, she does not like him, but Nick (a friend of Mike’s), arranges for them to meet up at the zoo, where they make a date. Gradually, she warms up to him. They share the same offbeat sense of humor and love for music.
At a restaurant, she orders a BLT, but substitutes bacon for pickles and cheese, calling it a “PCLT”. Michael orders the “Mexican Beach Salad”. While talking, he abruptly walks out and for a few moments, Charlyne is left alone. As a joke, Cera has walked around the restaurant. It’s clear she thought he left her.
Yi’s interviews continue: love stories represented by puppet shows.
Nick teases Yi (who wants to be one of the “dudes”), saying she has fallen for Mike. Charlyne (sometimes called “Char” or “Chuck”) isn’t comfortable with her femininity, saying she doesn’t want to be “just the girlfriend.” Nevertheless, she writes a song for her new boyfriend, calling it “You Smell like Christmas”.
Nick takes her to a fortune teller who says the relationship won’t last – that it’s good for now – but, they’ll go their separate ways. Yi seems to believe her.
Michael is becoming more uncomfortable with the ever-following camera, asking if they’ll ever be alone.
Yi interviews some inner-city kids about love, one who says, “It’s when you take somebody to Applebee’s and buy them hot wings.” When Nick mentions she has a boyfriend, the kids laugh and she denies she’s in love.
The film concludes with a plan to go to Paris, the city of love. Both Charlyne and Michael seem bewildered by it and ask why. Nick says it’s because Charlyne has found love. She answers, “But, I didn’t.” The next day, Michael Cera quits the film. (He reappears briefly at the end.)
Opinion. Audiences are divided on the authenticity of Paper Heart. Does Charlyne find love? Is it real? To me, it appears there’s a brief week or two of puppy love; however Charlyne is so unnerved at the idea of being vulnerable, of being a girl, that she cannot let her guard down. Most of the time, her body is buried underneath a hoody, her face peeking out like a turtle. What can be more telling?
Michael Cera enters the movie, reportedly to make the documentary more interesting. Whether his feelings are real or not, only he can tell, but he appears hurt when she says she doesn’t love him. I think to “save face”, Ms. Yi said this was all a put-on because in the end (which isn’t filmed), he, in turn, dumps her.
Afterward, in an interview, she was asked about Michael Cera. She answered, “Who’s Michael Cera?”
Text © 2015 – EricReports