When is a documentary not a documentary? The fake documentary concept — if you will, mockumentary — can, of course, work wonders. It can also come across as highly contrived and wilfully cute. Spinal Tap would be an example of the former. Paper Heart, regrettably, is the latter. There are some smart notions and pleasurable observations but, for the most part, the film rapidly disappears up its own format.
Comedienne and actress Charlyne Yi plays Charlyne Yi, a comedienne and actress, who doesn't believe in love and so embarks, with a documentary crew, on a trip across the US to try and understand the concept. On the way, she hooks up with Arrested Development's Michael Cera, meets a lot of interesting real couples discussing their relationships and asks assorted friends and celebs about love.
The film is at its best when talking to real people and Yi's wide-eyed innocence and deadpan demeanour elicit some intriguing confessions. It's a shame then that these moments make up the smallest percentage and have to give way to Yi's surreal puppet shows, regular demonstrations of how "quirky" Yi is, yet more "humorous" stilted conversations with Cera and, most bizarrely of all, a discourse on media intrusion and how the presence of the film crew affects her unconventional romance. Were Yi and Cera, a former real life couple, really the subject of so much media speculation? Is that what this is all about? Given that he's rapidly proving he's a one trick pony and she's nowhere near as appealing and funny as she clearly thinks she is, they could probably do with all the publicity they can get.