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Review: Dina

New documentary features an unconventional love story.


Scott and Dina take a trip to the shore.
  • Scott and Dina take a trip to the shore.

There’s an uneasiness to the set-up of Dina, the documentary from Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles that won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year. It’s presenting Dina, a late-40s Philadelphia woman with Asperger’s Syndrome, in the months leading up to her wedding with Scott, a similarly aged, autistic man who has never moved out of his parents' house. Add to that their families—working-class suburbanites—Dina’s inability to work due to being attacked by a previous boyfriend, her first husband dying of cancer, and Scott’s virginity, and it could’ve been a real tone-deaf, mocking mess. But Sickles and Santini clearly have great affection for their protagonists, who are struggling—Dina wants sex and Scott is afraid of it (and uninterested in most physical intimacy; they hold hands up in mid-air), which she interprets as deliberate distance.

They move in together, take a few day trips and talk through their feelings in an attempt to make sure everything is right before the wedding. The camera sits mostly stationary, from a respectful distance, in pure observation, not judgment. It’s a rather remarkable feat. Other than the 911 call Dina’s boyfriend made after stabbing her—its chilling inclusion serves to help understand, rather than exploit—Dina is a gentle movie about a gentle love story.

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