Paper Heart directed by Nicholas Jasenovec.

Starring Charlyne Yi, Michael Cera, and Nicholas Jasenovec.

What is love? Is it a tangible experience? Can a scientist find it in the brain? Some people fall in and out of it; some people do not believe in it; some people think that love is a verb. In Paper Heart, Charylne Yi seeks to understand this complex phenomenon.

Paper Heart holds a unique characteristic coined as a “hybrid documentary” by the producers. The movie is partly a documentary because it details the stories of actual human beings, yet at the same time the movie tells a fictional story about the relationship between Charlyne Yi and Michael Cera. For this reason, the movie often breaks the fourth wall – typically known as the barrier between the story and the viewer – best illustrated when an actor on stage turns to the audience and begins communicating to them about the play they are watching. The movie rotates between truth and fiction as the viewer watches a documentary about love on the one hand, and a fictional narrative about the person making a documentary on love.

Although the movie contains the unique fourth wall themes, the division between truth and fiction hurts the movie. While movies like Peter Jackson’s District 9 subtly uses the fourth wall documentary style narrative, Paper Heart forced it down my throat. I was consistently reminded that I was watching characters that were making a documentary. In the end, these reminders diminished the force of the narrative in the movie.

On the whole, Paper Heart is a decent movie. It is quirky and entertaining for the most part. But, it barely leaves a lasting impression. Even if Paper Heart did not change my life, it is still a light-hearted movie that some may enjoy.

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