Friday night I stayed in, ordered a pizza and watched “Paper Heart” on Netflix. Never heard of it? Here’s what the New York Times said about the film in 2009:
An unconvincing mash-up of the real and the fake, “Paper Heart” wavers between identities to no clear purpose and to its considerable creative detriment. The clumsy premise follows Ms. Yi and a director (named Nick Jasenovec but played by Jake Johnson) as they solicit love stories from a variety of regular Americans, most of whom are delightful and none of whom appears to be in on the movie’s meta-joke. Rather these segments, cherry-picked to enhance a loosely predetermined narrative (by Ms. Yi and Mr. Jasenovec), serve chiefly as props for a scripted romance between the leading lady and the actor Michael Cera, an attachment so tentative and pathologically gawky that it’s almost painful to watch.
The problem I had with “Paper Heart” is that it had me convinced. I actually believed it was a documentary about love and that Yi and Cera met and fell in like/love during filming. It wasn’t until the credits, when I saw that the director was played by an actor, that I had any idea that the movie wasn’t totally, 100% real.
I smiled throughout the film, watching the awkward Yi warm up to the idea of dating the slightly-less-awkward Cera, and now I feel foolish upon learning that Yi and Cera were already a couple when “Paper Heart” was made.
The NYT also claims that Yi was playing a fictional version of herself. Well, that’s not very documentary-ish, is it? Makes you wonder what else about “Paper Heart” was made up.
Perhaps I wouldn’t feel so let down by the film if I had known going into it that it was half-documentary, half-scripted. But I didn’t, so I feel like my time was wasted believing in something that wasn’t real to begin with.
Did you see “Paper Heart?”
(image via NPR)