At the heart of Laura Nix’s excellent documentary short Walk, Run, Cha-Cha (2020) is an earnest immigration story of a Vietnamese couple.
Paul Cao was a young adult when the war in his home country Vietnam happened, forcing him to leave his girlfriend Millie to go to the United States because of the probable dangers. Separated for over six years, the two were reunited in California to start over. Four decades later, Paul and Millie are now trying to redefine their relationship – deciding to fill in the long gaps of not being together through dance.
The dance floor in Walk, Run, Cha-Cha signifies the time that will never be replaced or taken back, and the dance itself as an act of their longing and reclaiming of youth. With a running time of just twenty-one minutes, the documentary was able to subtly evoke so many emotions without directly pushing for it.
Although testimonials are presented through voice-overs, you can feel deep down that something has dried out. When telling their history, both Paul and Millie seemed like they are telling a part of them that has been long gone, torn between becoming ecstatic, sentimental, and regret in their delivery.
But the documentary is focused on the now. Throughout, we see Paul and Millie practicing on a dance – beat by beat, step by step until they were able to perfect everything for the climactic performance, feeling like an ode and allegory to their current love story.
Walk, Run, Cha-Cha was an impressive insight into one of the most overlooked struggles of immigrants: the redemption of our lost history. Inspiring and bittersweet, it could be one of the best films about immigrant life out there in recent memory.