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As “Charlyne” travels the country and speaks to children and adults, awkwardly falls for Michael, performs puppet shows, sings a twee love song into her computer, and finally has a meltdown in Paris about her inability to open up and fall for someone, the audience is never sure how much is coming from Yi and how much is conjecture. “I would never film myself, or feel comfortable exposing my life,” she says. The screen Charlyne doesn’t talk about how she feels, and I think I talk too much about how I feel, and I think I’m very transparent. I had to play deadpan and cut down on doing this sing-song thing with my words.”Still, a lot of the “real” Charlyne does come through in the film.
It can feel a bit like a bait-and-switch; are we seeing Yi’s true search for love? Almost all of Yi’s friends in the movie are male—Rogen, Martin Starr, Cera—and they call her “Chuck” for short.
Yi’s inability to find love is hard to watch; she is self-defeating and often says exactly the wrong thing.
The audience really wants to root for her, but she keeps getting in her own way.
And I was hanging around with all these older men who hadn’t really found love yet and it depressed me.
It’s almost as if she wanted to make a documentary about a topic that embarrassed her—her difficulty finding love—and to lessen the blow, put a narrative distance between herself and the material.