Dakota Johnson cajoles a lustful man at Bar Mitzvah in sexy coming-of-age Drama

“We know each other,” Domino (Dakota Johnson) assures Andrew (Cooper Raiff), a goofy and kind 22-year-old who has recently brightened her life and that of her autistic daughter. century, Lola (Vanessa Burghardt), like a flash of possibility. Though they had only met twice, their instantaneous chemistry and his fervent curiosity quickly followed their palpable attraction.

Wrapped in a wave of warmth, “Cha Cha Real Smooth,” Raiff’s sequel to 2020 SXSW winner “S-house,” is a heartfelt gem with all the right moves. to make you swoon. While it may look like the quintessential, character-oriented Sundance title about upper-middle-class whites, there are nuances of depth that show how Raiff, the village’s new prodigy drama, faced difficulties beyond his age.

Fresh out of college, Andrew shares a room with his younger brother, David (Evan Assante, “Wild Indian”), and works as a fast food vendor (at a place called Meat Sticks). But after enchanting all the Jewish mothers in town with his fun energy and disco dexterity, Andrew is hired as a party organizer for a series of local bars. Domino became especially fond of him, as he was interested in encouraging Lola to join the fun. Before long, the charming young man became her babysitter. For Domino, his presence in her home was a welcome invigorating air.

Indeed, this is a love story, but not in the obvious direction in which the first act might come. More “Licorice Pizza” than “The Graduate,” Raiff’s new film about the characters’ difficult process of defining what they mean to each other. Domino is engaged to Joseph (Raúl Castillo), an attorney who spends most of his time in Chicago, and is vocal about her commitment to him. So while there’s no misinterpretation of her and Andrew’s shared desires, this only manifests in gentle flirtatious encounters.

In scenes where Andrew and Domino are alone, sitting at the counter eating a frozen plate or kissing hesitantly in the dark, cinematographer Cristina Dunlap (“Are you okay?”) commits to close-ups to emphasizes the romantic tension between them, trapping us in the narrow space separating their lips, uncertain but desperate to kiss. It is also in those intimate moments that Raiff’s deepest dialogue, for both characters, comes to the fore. In turn, Lola’s frankness in saying exactly what she needs and how she feels about those around her offers a stark contrast to the intensity of adults’ confusion.

Johnson, with a twinkle in her eye whenever she talks to her young suitor, conveys a similar sense of uncertainty as she did during her recent shoot on “The Lost Daughter.” She often plays women who radiate a magnetic charm that she conveys through her smooth vocals and the grace of her body language. In the role of Domino, the actress is a metaphorical heart surgeon, trying her best not to break the fragility in Andrew. Similarly, Raiff never vilified her for seeing Andrew behind Joseph’s back.

To explain why Andrew is such a sweetheart, Raiff refers to his mother, played by Leslie Mann, a professional in the cool motherhood departments. She has bipolar disorder, which, due to being mindful of his condition, makes him more intuitive and sensitive to people who are struggling; So far this is a story element introduced a few times in dialogue but never added in substantial form. However, like Raiff’s character in “S-house”, who has a strong connection to his mother, who is also a great source of support and a debilitating crutch to avoid facing adulthood. , Andrew attributed his noble personality to the woman who raised him.

Incredibly humorous, even when dealing with mature themes, “Cha Cha” outlines Raiff’s evolution as a screenwriter and director. While not perfect in terms of the amount of time he spends with each character, his approach to supporting characters, even those that directly get in the way of what Andrew believes he wants, gives them a fair vibe in their portrayal. Neither Joseph nor her new husband (Brad Garrett) have been branded as villains. The young filmmaker doesn’t seem to apply the same savvy spelling to the titles of his works, but they’re nonetheless memorable if you’re wondering.

Based on his gentle charisma, Raiff has found characters that fit his personal range and thus outperform them. Much in the same way that Jim Cummings (“Beta Tester”) casts himself as nervous and impatient men, Raiff’s boys are soft all around, showing no sign of discomfort in relationships. interpersonal but gentle and compassionate about the mental wounds of others.

What helps the star-studded filmmaker to not be so appreciative of his own character’s emotional underdevelopment and how he falls in love with all his might is an outburst of believable negativity that pervades everywhere. . Andrew experiences intense jealousy when looking at pictures of a girl he once dated, now with another man in Barcelona, ​​and when heartbreak dissolves his judgments , he attacked David, who was looking for wisdom for his teenage love life.

Pushing deeper into a darker range of emotions might have lost the tone, but the absence of those emotions would make Andrews an all-too-ideal pedestal. By accident or by design, Raiff serves as a proponent of a new paradigm for heterosexual masculinity on screen, one that finds its sex appeal in an open heart, genuine recognition. into the inherent flaws and vulnerabilities that show crying not as a major breakthrough but as a natural response to the complications of being a messy human.

Given that “S-house” follows a college freshman terrified of being away from home, and now the focus is on a fresh graduate still surviving in the adult world, Raiff seems to be doing it. a movie about growing up chronologically, in a way like Richard “Boyhood” by Linklater. If continued as a series, his films about young men deciphering their complicated emotions and finding life could potentially be called “Guyhood”.

To avoid a sophomore slump, Raiff’s “Cha Char Real Smooth” is the kind of sincere business that can easily be spoiled with contrived plot twists or simple plot points full of roses, but here it is. it sings again with a wondrous light and an irresistible drama. rhythm makes it irresistible.

“Cha Cha Real Smooth” made its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.

https://www.thewrap.com/cha-cha-real-smooth-film-review-dakota-johnson-cooper-raiff/ Dakota Johnson cajoles a lustful man at Bar Mitzvah in sexy coming-of-age Drama

Curtis Crabtree

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