Few fictional movies handle romance as beautifully as “Dina,” the U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize winner at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, and a story as warm-hearted and as open as its title character.
Dina Buno is a 48-year-old woman in suburban Philadelphia who happily talks to anybody — her dentist, her friends, strangers she meets on the bus — about her life. She’s busy preparing for her upcoming wedding to Scott Levin, who works as a door greeter at Walmart.
When the two are together, though, it seems at first blush that Scott isn’t as into Dina as she is into him. But for those who know the signs, it’s immediately clear what’s going on: Dina and Scott are on the autism spectrum.
This is particularly evident when Dina tries to broach the subject of sexual intimacy. Scott, like many people on the spectrum, has difficulty showing his emotions or empathy to others, even to one’s fiancée — so it’s up to Dina to force the issue, which she does in a refreshingly forthright way.
Directors Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini don’t spell things out, because they don’t have to. They train their cameras on Dina and Scott in the act of being themselves and let viewers extrapolate the rest. (The exception is the sensitive handling, late in the movie, of a dark moment in Dina’s past.)
In “Dina,” Sickles and Santini strip away many of the clichés of documentaries about disability and show two people dealing with autism the same way they deal with everything: together and on their own terms.
* * * 1/2
A refreshing and honest documentary that follows a woman preparing for her wedding and life with her future husband, both of whom are on the autism spectrum.
Where • Broadway Centre Cinemas.
When • Opens Friday, Nov. 3.
Rating • Not rated, but probably PG-13 for language and some sexual dialogue.
Running time • 103 minutes.