It is a terrible thing when your reaction on watching two romantic leads kiss for the first time is squirming embarrassment but Paper Heart is nothing if not cringe inducing from beginning to end.
The film is described as a “hybrid documentary” and it follows Charlyne Yi as she embarks on a quest across America trying to understand love. She claims to have never been in love, and also believes she is incapable of loving another human being. However when she meets Michael Cera and a relationship develops between them, she must question her preconceived notions.
This is the movie that introduced me to Charlyne Yi, an actress so awkward and limited in range it’s excruciating to watch her. It is also the movie that made me actively dislike Michael Cera, and want to avoid him in all future movies, which is disappointing as I loved his performance in Superbad. However in Superbad, Cera had Jonah Hill to bounce off and the two actors provided good contrast to each other’s personalities; Hill as the hyperactive hilarious loudmouth and Cera as the awkward reserved nerd. However, when two awkward nerds are cast opposite each other, with scant comic relief to pick up the slack, the result is a slow moving and uncomfortable experience for the viewer.
The cutesy lo-fi soundtrack is composed primarily by the two stars; an excercise in egotism that the film could certainly have done without. The dialogue is predictably awful, consisting primarily of the two characters’ inane observations on their immediate environs. Most of the time it felt like the viewer was watching the worst date in the world, and after a few minutes I found myself praying for it to end.
The only redeeming thing about the movie is the interviews with real life couples on the subject of love, although this idea has been explored with greater depth and humour in “When Harry Met Sally”. Aside from these heartwarming interludes, Paper Heart drags along to its conclusion which is predictable and certainly not worth the one hour and twenty minutes it takes to get there. Avoid at all costs.