TORONTO — Things are getting blurry on the big screen as the line between fiction and reality becomes harder to distinguish in films like Paper Heart, the pseudo-documentary starring Charlyne Yi and Michael Cera, and Cold Souls, in which Paul Giamatti portrays a disaffected actor named Paul Giamatti.
Both open this weekend on the heels of the Adam Sandler dramedy, Funny People, in which the comic-turned-movie-star plays a famous comic-turned-movie-star, albeit with a different name.
The tactic plays out to varying degrees in each film, with Yi’s Paper Heart apparently causing the most confusion among some filmgoers and gossip hounds eager to believe that she really is, or perhaps was, dating her Brampton, Ont., co-star.
Confusing things is that both play characters bearing their real-life names and that much of the film consists of documentary footage of Yi interviewing average people about their thoughts on love.
Things are a bit more obvious in the sombre sci-fi/comedy, Cold Souls, in which Giamatti’s depressed character has so much trouble embracing his role in a stage production of Uncle Vanya that he decides to literally remove his soul, and put it in cold storage.
“(Writer/director Sophie Barthes) went through a version of it where she did actually make it sort of me, with biographical facts attached to it,” Giamatti says.
“‘That,’ I said, ‘I’m not interested in doing.’ I’m not interested in actually playing myself, I’m fine playing a character.”