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“That’s such a rude question to ask!”


Charlyne Yi is giggling because she’s being asked for the umpteenth time if rumors of her break-up with supposed beau and “Paper Heart” co-star Michael Cera are true. “She’s heartbroken,” announced online gossip Perez Hilton.


“What-evuh,” says Yi. The comic and musician may have filmed a mockumentary, “Paper Heart,” featuring a budding romance with Cera (“Year One”). She may be a part of a generation that Tweets its secrets and is all over YouTube. But here she draws the line.


“It’s weird. There’s no contract that you sign when you become an athlete or singer or writer that says, ‘I give up all my privacy. STALK me.’


“I’m crying right now. Why’d you bring this up?”


OK, she’s laughing as she says this.


“That’s a rumor. I don’t know WHY people want to know stuff like that. We didn’t break up, because we were never together.”


Well, that’s kind of interesting, inviting prying questions about the nature of a relationship that dated back before “Paper Heart” was filmed. Is the break-up real or staged for the movie? Was the romance a pose? Not to go all Tom and Katie on her.


“I was a two-timing slut. So how was that going to work?” She cackles. “Let’s get THAT rumor started!”


It all plays into “Paper Heart,” a mockumentary with often adorable interviews between Yi and scientists talking about “love,” and Yi and couples telling their particular love story. The film also has a fictional account of Charlyne, who wants to know “what love is,” meeting this cute, sensitive guy named Michael Cera and maybe falling for him. “Contrived” shows up in many reviews, even the positive ones. “Cloyingly cute,” Joe Williams opined in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


“About half of the movie is ‘real,’” Yi says. “We’re not looking to make people upset, or make them think we’ve fooled them. I hope they enjoy the ride. At least to me, it makes no difference what’s true and what’s not.”


So to clarify, a few of the interviews were people she stumbled into. Most of them a “casting director from a reality series” found for her. But the Cera romance thing she’s a little more cagey about.


Yi, 23, is still figuring out this showbiz life-in-the-public-eye thing. She’s in a bunch of bands no one ever heard of, pops up in bit parts in movies and TV and does a “variety show” act in comedy clubs. Those puppets she uses to illustrate romance in “Paper Heart”? Part of her act.


So she comes off as an awkward oddball with a cute smile and poor enunciation skills (especially on YouTube). Perhaps that’s an act, too. But don’t call it “conceptual comedy” or compare her to Andy Kaufman because she won’t own that. Yi is a woman of mystery, beginning with “How is she famous?” (She got the attention of Judd Apatow and was in “Knocked Up”).


“Nobody gets me unless we’re friends.”

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7 Jan 2010
Granted, this is a bit of a mess, and it is damn precious, but compared to All About Steve, Paper Heart might as well be The 400 Blows.
13 Aug 2009
Paper Heart is increasingly focused on the tension between Cera and Yi's supposedly real romance and the camera's imposition of structure and self-consciousness.
29 Apr 2009
With names like Tarantino, Lee, and Zombie, the final month of the season pulls out all the film geek stops. Still, the only guarantee is familiarity, not freshness.
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