Sundance 2022 – Dakota Johnson and Cooper Raiff Deliver Touching Performances in ‘Cha Cha Real Smooth’

Dakota Johnson appears in 'CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH' directed by Cooper Raiff, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
Dakota Johnson appears in 'CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH' directed by Cooper Raiff, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
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SYNOPSIS: Fresh out of college — but now what? Higher education failed to provide 22-year-old Andrew with a clear life path going forward, so he’s stuck back at home with his family in New Jersey. But if college did teach him one thing, it’s drinking and partying — skills that make him the perfect candidate for a job party-starting at the bar and bat mitzvahs of his younger brother’s classmates. When Andrew befriends a local mom, Domino, and her daughter, Lola, he finally discovers a future he wants, even if it might not be his own. [Source: Sundance Institute]

‘Cha Cha Real Smooth’ features a fantastic ensemble cast including Dakota Johnson, Leslie Mann, and newcomers Vanessa Burghardt and Evan Assante.

Sundance newcomer, Cooper Raiff wrote, directed, and starred in this sweet and pure story. The writing is very smart, very funny, and very touching. The depth of each character is profound; Andrew (Raiff) is outwardly charming and endearing. Domino (Johnson) is unwilling to get close and let someone in, after suffering trust issues from a previous marriage. Raiff’s presence and timing are extraordinary. The insights into the two characters are fascinating as they are revealed, especially to each other. The surprise of such an intelligent screenplay was such a delight to share with the Sundance audience. 

Andrew is a 22-year-old who moves back in with his mom (Mann) and stepfather (Brad Garrett). He meets Domino, a single mother of an autistic teen daughter, Lola (Burghardt) at a bat mitzvah and is immediately smitten with her. Andrew turns on the charm and talks his way into a babysitter job sitting for Lola. Turns out, Andrew is wonderful with Lola and grows to love her as well; in fact, he takes on a very protective role over her. 

Domino, who is turns out, is engaged to an attorney who looks and acts like he is fresh out of Marine boot camp. It is obvious the two have a troubled relationship. Domino returns home early from a night out; she ends up having one of the best nights of her life with Andrew as they talk and eat icicle pops. Andrew falls in love with Domino very quickly, a sort of puppy love. Their attraction become clear very quickly.  As the story progresses, Andrew and Domino discover their own inner demons and must decide how to move forward. 

The film expertly delves into several issues: love, bullying, introversion, autism, family. Strong screenwriting and exquisite performances, coupled with an enchanting and contemporary score by Este Haim. ‘Cha Cha Real Smooth’ is made for the hopeless romantic living inside us all.

About Jillian Dale 70 Articles
Film festival coverage and digital content ninja.

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