Sundance Institute-The Orchard
At 49, the title subject of Antonio Santini and Daniel Sickles’s obliquely intimate and quietly devastating documentary “Dina,” has not had an easy life.
She is on the autism spectrum, with an engaging curiosity that verges on obsessiveness, a keen intelligence that can turn into obsessive self-criticism, and an effusive friendliness that sometimes oversteps boundaries. She lives on disability (in one scene she shows difficulty with simple mathematics) alone in an apartment over a vacant storefront in suburban Philadelphia.
But past traumas overshadow her present circumstances. In snatches of conversation, we learn of a former deceased husband, an “accident” in which Dina was gravely hurt. These mysteries lurk in the background as the film elliptically relates her present good fortune – her engagement and upcoming marriage to Scott, an unflaggingly good-natured young man with Asperger syndrome who works as a Walmart greeter.
They seem utterly in love, but when Scott moves into Dina’s apartment, difficulties arise. Dina is used to living alone. Scott hasn’t lived anywhere except with his parents. Dina, once married and with prior boyfriends, has a healthy libido. But Scott, as Dina tearfully tells confidants while playing miniature golf, has a childish concept of sex.
She gives him “The Joy of Sex” as a gift and he nervously comments, “Wow; 12 million copies sold.” He’s not interested in physical love, or he’s afraid to try it, or — the possibility that torments Dina most — he doesn’t really like her and is more interested in looking up rock music trivia on his smartphone. But he says he’s “working on it.”
Meanwhile, the wedding preparations continue unabated. Santini and Sickles (“Mala Mala”) show a gift for wry parallel editing, as they intercut Scott trying on a rented tuxedo while Dina searches in a sex shop for alluring lingerie. For his bachelor party, Scott and his two pals discuss their anxiety about intercourse on the way to a bowling alley; for her night out, Dina whoops it up as a male stripper performs for her and her fellow bachelorettes.
After the wedding, which takes place in a restaurant in a mall, the couple head to the Poconos for their honeymoon. In one poignant scene, an extreme long shot of the pair silhouetted on a hillside, another couple walks by, hand-in-hand. “See how they do that?” Dina says. “So natural.”
But though he might be uncertain about sex, or even kissing and cuddling, Scott is an incurable romantic. And steadfastly loyal and kind. The value of that is made clear when the filmmakers disclose the full tragedy and horror of what Dina has gone through, and when he sings to her “Before the Next Teardrop Falls.”
Directed by Antonio Santini and Daniel Sickles. At Kendall Square. 102 minutes. Unrated (intimate and confused discussions about sex).
“RBG” looks at the personal and professional lives of the Supreme Court justice, now in her 25th year in that job.Continue reading »
In the Cabinet-level post, Elliott-Ortega will focus on increasing diversity in the arts and seeking funding for the local arts community.Continue reading »
Lana Del Rey, Azealia Banks, Iggy Azalea put spats in the spotlight.Continue reading »
As “Downton Abbey” comes to an end Sunday night, let us pause to praise its most indelible character.Continue reading »
The lasting tragedy that “Amy” captures isn’t that Winehouse was ill equipped to handle fame. It’s that once she got it, she never stood a chance.Continue reading »
The casting of non-Latino actors in the lead roles has opened another front in an increasingly heated national debate over onstage diversity.Continue reading »
When villain V.M. Varga reaches inside his grotesque mouth and starts picking and poking, I have to watch through my fingers.Continue reading »
The movie, which asks the men behind mass killings in Indonesia to show their own version of events, is one of the most extraordinary films you’ll ever encounter.Continue reading »
The two-part, four-hour film, airing Saturday and Sunday nights, is a deep dive into the life and death of the former Patriot and convicted murderer.Continue reading »