fri 17/08/2018

Dina review - a poignant treat | reviews, news & interviews

Dina review - a poignant treat

Dina review - a poignant treat

Sundance documentary winner is a rewarding study of love and the human spirit

Dina: a 48-year-old widow who views the world with childlike optimismGemma Purkiss

Director Dan Sickles has known Dina her entire life. He knows her engaging personality, and he knows her tragic past. It’s the former which he and co-director Antonio Santini feel is worth celebrating in this Sundance award-winning documentary.

Dina is a 48-year-old widow who views the world with childlike optimism. Her charm and openness are immediate – traits which have enamoured her fiancé Scott. Together they make a winning team, each growing from the other’s support, love and unconventional nature. Alongside a rolling cast of friends, family and unsuspecting strangers, we watch the couple reach new milestones in their relationship.

The film is a fascinating look at love – one that is not traditional but unarguably unconditional. The leads are admirably open about the issues they face around sex: Scott uncomfortable with physical contact and Dina paranoid about Scott’s disinterest. It's an honest and subtle insight into how people living with autism navigate relationships..

On face value, the film appears to follow two eccentric people as they plan their marriage. Certainly in the first half-hour, there’s a creeping sense that we’re jumping from one awkward social situation to the next with no clear direction. This is deliberate. We begin like the unsuspecting strangers, only seeing the quirks. Sickles and Santini do not spell out Dina and Scott’s history; we get to know them as people first because it means all the more once we find out what they’ve experienced.DinaThis is highlighted in the film’s final moments, three gut-wrenching minutes made all the more affecting because they follow 90 minutes of relationship-building. The story here is the people Dina and Scott are, not what they’ve been through or what they’ve been diagnosed with. The approach works: somewhere along the way you begin really caring for these characters.

Each scene in Dina appears carefully composed, as if the directors knew that they just had to frame the shot and the material would come. There must be hours of footage left on the cutting-room floor, but the editing seamlessly compiles sequences together. Much of the comedy (and there’s a lot) is drawn from here, including a montage in which Scott shops for tuxedos while Dina browses an S&M shop.

While it’s rewarding to focus on character and not story, it does mean Dina drags in the middle. After watching the couple catch their 10th bus, you can be forgiven for wondering where this is all going. Perhaps it would reward rewatching once Dina’s backstory has been revealed, although this would defeat the point of not tackling it from the beginning. Dina is really about two people very much in love. Dina’s history is overwhelming, but she hasn’t let that define who she is and neither has the film. As a piece of cinema, it’s a surprisingly poignant treat.


Overleaf: watch the trailer to Dina

It's as if the directors knew that they just had to frame the shot and the material would come


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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