Dina (4 stars)

Dina

Sensitive, unsentimental documentary about an irrepressible autistic woman

Dina is so heartbreakingly candid that it braves the risk of feeling intrusive. Directors Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year for a documentary that casts an unflinching eye over the romantic travails of a couple on the autistic spectrum.

Feisty 48-year-old Dina Buno is preparing to marry her fiancé Scott Levin, a cheery employee at Walmart. They have decided to move in together and the film captures the couple as they head to the movies, share a pizza, watch Sex and the City and snuggle down for the night. It all seems ordinary and unremarkable, with the camera content to calmly observe their whimsical ways. Are we being invited to laugh at them, or merely being encouraged to embrace them on their own terms?

It becomes apparent that they have some very real issues that threaten their happy ever after. Dina is clearly a lot friskier than Scott and, whilst he is affectionate and might just know what sex is, we are not entirely convinced that he wants to experience it for himself. She gets a kick out of the male stripper at her hen night and, on a romantic trip to New Jersey, she boldly buys Scott a copy of The Joy of Sex.

Dina's need to feel loved and desired is all the more understandable when we learn of the tragedy in her past. By then, we have grown so attached to this irrepressible woman that the documentary has become as compelling as any fictional drama. The film slowly wins your heart as it explores the complexity of a relationship with problems that have no easy solutions. Dina's need for a second chance at happiness is especially poignant precisely because of the filmmakers' sensitive, determinedly unsentimental approach.

Limited release from Fri 20 Oct.

Dina

  • 4 stars
  • 2017
  • US
  • 1h 41min
  • Directed by: Antonio Santini / Dan Sickles
  • Cast: Dina Buno, Scott Levin
  • UK release: 20 October 2017

This documentary about the romantic travails of a couple on the autistic spectrum won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year. Sensitive and determinedly unsentimental, it unfolds into a compelling story about one irrepressible woman’s need to feel loved and desired, and explores a relationship with problems that have…

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