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Indie Movie Review – La Cha Cha

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There are some films that you see the initial details and think that you are going to be in for a treat. Interesting story, compelling cast, the previous work of the crew who are behind the camera.  It doesn’t need to be all of those factors. A single name can draw the crowds in. Tom Hanks, Quentin Tarantino, Robert De Niro, Tim Burton…any of those can bring in a goodly sized audience  provided the right ones are preceded by “starring” and the others by “directed by”. When I was sent the blurb for La Cha Cha I thought that I was going to be in for reasonable afternoons entertainment…ah well.

The story was given as “Mild-mannered Irishman Solti Buttering (Liam Hourican) is on a road trip through the spectacular valleys of Wales to scatter his grandfather’s ashes. In search of a room and not a hotel vacancy to be found, he stumbles across La Cha Cha, an unconventional caravan site and home to a community of eccentric retirees living off-grid and having the time of their lives.” So…it could be jolly. One of the tag lines was “Sex ’n’ Bugs ’n’ Sausage Rolls”. Now that’s my sort of silly pun! The opening also made me smile. It looked like a standard Universal opening but, instead it said “Ewniversal Credit”: the “Ewn” was a nod to the Welsh pedigree while Universal Credit is a government payment to top up the income of low earners. 

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This Stuff Will Keep You As Hard As Physics

Then there is the list of names attached to La Cha Cha: Serkis, Allen, Ifans, Scott are all well known to fans of film and television. Alright, the Serkis name is actually Ashbourne Serkis but you do get two of them! The leads are Ruby Ashbourne Serkis as Libby Rees and Sonny Ashbourne Serkis as Damien Rees; Ruby in particular carries this film, pretty much, from start to finish. They both convey the tensions and irritations that come from siblings working together…mainly because they are siblings and seemed to start acting by going to work with Dad and somebody saying we need a couple of kids…they were both kids at a birthday party in Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll and cute hobbits in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Next up is the Allen family and, in an attempt to build up a sense of anticlimax, I’ll start off by saying the director was Kevin Allen, brother of Keith and uncle of Alfie and Lily. So while you may be thinking “that’s another swizz” I’ll just pop in that all of the mentioned Allens are involved apart from Lily. Keith plays Paulie, a runaway who ran out of the closet to live his life with some kindred spirits on  the La Cha Cha campsite. Perhaps the biggest swizz is Alfie Allen. He plays Dooty Davies, a pilot who flies contraband drugs in from France. He doesn’t say a lot and what he does say is unintelligible…think Brad Pitt in Snatch. But there’s no real need to worry as he only has two scenes and is on screen for less than two minutes.

He Loved My Bara Brith 

In a similar vein Rhys Ifans, as dodgy dealer Jeremiah, is on for a little over two minutes. And, in another similar vein, he only spoke in Welsh which wasn’t subtitled! Dougray Scott was a big name with a bigger part and more screen time. He played Roger Callaway, the male half of the bad guys team who were trying to take possession of La Cha Cha. He was joined by his wife Virginia played by Tamzin Malleson who I remember fondly from the UK version of the sitcom Teachers. There are quite a few campers at La Cha Cha but the ones that stood out for me were Iris (Melanie Walters) and Mrs Fruitcake (Di Botcher) both of whom are quite well known, over here, for their TV work.

So how did La Cha Cha play out? To be honest, it was a bit of a disappointment. It was filmed while some of the COVID restrictions were in place as is evidenced by some people wearing masks and the use of elbow bumps for greetings. And it feels like a group of friends had got fed up during lockdown and, when things started to relax, they got together to have a bit of fun and make a film. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to have spent enough time, effort, thought, or imagination on the script. They all seemed to be having a good time messing about on a lakeside campsite. Sadly, they probably had more fun than the audience. La Cha Cha gets a digital release on 25th March 2024.

Movie Grade: C+

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