Here's a sweet enough film blending meta-reality and fantasy
that can't quite seem to figure out what it is. A documentary?
A mockumentary? Hard to say. There definitely is comedy
throughout this film directed Nicholas Jasenovec , which
focuses on comedian/musician Charlyne Yi as she searches
for answers to the questions: What is love and does it exist?
and Does true love exist?
For reasons unexplained, it appears Yi doesn't believe in
love and isn't sure if she's capable of experiencing it.
Now, that's a sad and potentially serious situation to be
in which many people can relate to, yet Yi is all smiles
and awkward giggles. This can be a bit off-putting at times
since we haven't been given the chance to know who she is
and are left wondering what brought her to this point. It's
obvious Yi is cute and endearing in her own disheveled look
but it's unclear why she chose to embark on this quest.
her brand of obscure humor is entertaining, we're still
left wanting to know more as the film progresses. Once we
can come to terms with the idea that we may not know whether
or not the onscreen Yi is the real Yi, we can enjoy the
After interviewing fellow actors and friends like Martin
Starr and Seth Rogen, she decides to travel cross-country
with a small film crew and hit up the requisite, supposed
"random people" for their take on love. Along
with biologists, newlyweds, and seasoned lovebirds, Yi also
encounters a a romance novelist, a psychic, a divorce lawyer
and a Las Vegas Elvis minister.
most creative and lively moments can be seen when the interviewees
back stories are illustrated with hand-made dioramas and
paper cut-out figures. The biker-bar run-in, similar to
PeeWee Herman's, was a bit stereotypical as one patron described
love as 'thirty minutes in the back seat'. Sigh.
high point though was Yi's interaction with with a playground
full of kids in Atlanta, who freely offer their advice on
love; some with wisdom well beyond their years. The answers
and explanations given certainly run the gamut on love.
There are moments here of heart and truth that rise above
the expected hilarity and quirk.
Throughout this process, things get complicated when the
crew goes back to Los Angeles where Yi is introduced to
actor Michael Cera (playing Michael Cera playing Michael
Cera) at a party. We see her not making a big deal out of
her increased communication with Cera while traveling and
a high schooler brushing off any acknowledgement of possible
infatuation, she finds herself falling for him and the two
eventually hit it off as they tentatively date. Jasonevec
sees this budding romance as an ironic opportunity and starts
to film Charlyne and Michael every chance he gets. After
all, she's doing a movie about love and the lack thereof
and then this happens: it's perfect!
Since they are both playing themselves, it's hard to determine
if this budding non-romance is really happening. Their scenes
together, performed with a dash of improv, rarely rely on
the script and their whole relationship confirms that love
can be found when you're least looking for it.
be noted though that Yi and Cera are supposedly dating off
screen. That may be why he agreed to this role to begin
with, but it's difficult to see what exactly Cera brings
to the role of boyfriend except that he's nice, kinda funny
and seems to share common interests with Yi. In a scene
where the two of them are recording music together, it becomes
clear that could be all she needed.
The concept of the film was created and written by both
Yi and Jasenovec, and takes a life all it's own once the
cameras start rolling. Jasenovec is played by actor Jake
M. Johnson (last seen in Redbelt) which was the
first "huh?"moment that makes you realize this
wasn't a straight-up doc seeing as how there was someone
playing the director.
beginning is enjoyable and interesting in it's "woman
on the street" feel as we see Yi asking random passerbys
in Vegas what love is. It felt real. Yet once we notice
the director was clearly played by another person, it's
an unfortunate ripcord effect which leaves one continuously
trying to determine how close this movie represents reality.
The awkwardness of the relationship scenes felt genuine
but something seemed to be missing. It was difficult to
care for these two because we were given nothing to invest
in. You really need to be a steady fan of Cera to swallow
all his trademark antics and if you're not, that could be
problem might be Yi herself. If we knew more of her before
seeing this film, it might be easier to root for her. We
briefly come close when we see her among her family as she
introduced Cera to them. She can be very interesting and
often funny here but it's a little distracting that you
cannot tell whether she is 13 or 33 years old (turns out
she's 23), plus, it's even hard to tell if that smile and
laugh of hers is genuine or simply a case of social anxiety.
is she doing all this? What is she trying to show (or tell)
the audience about love? Is it all part of the film's character
or is this really Yi? It's never clear.
If you have that many questions after going along with such
a journey, then you have to wonder if time was well spent.
In the end, I have no idea what this film is trying to say.
It just seems chock full of many of the endless cliches
on love that we already know. That's too bad since there
is enough creativity, humor and heart going on here....then
again, maybe this paper heart is a bit too thin.