“Dina, an outspoken and eccentric 49-year-old in suburban Philadelphia, invites her fiancé Scott, a Walmart door greeter, to move in with her. Having grown up neurologically diverse in a world blind to the value of their experience, the two are head-over-heels for one another, but shacking up poses a new challenge.”
Filmmakers Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini, lovingly frame Dina and Scott’s vulnerable, yet matter-of-fact romance.
It’s a lovely film.
Memorable characters, we at CHF love to love watching in a film.
We dig it.
The film doesn’t feel or look like a documentary. It’s a character-based piece, but the structure is carefully considered with a clear narrative thrust and an unusual style. “Dina” plays almost like a rom-com, where catchy tunes underscore different sequences and similar scenes are placed in juxtaposition to one another, providing a wonderful back-and-forth look at his experience as opposed to hers. The couple is at the center of a group of eccentric sidekicks, friends and family, all helping them towards the big day. There are some extremely dark moments in “Dina,” and these are even more powerful because of Santini and Sickles’ humanistic approach. Their care for Dina and Scott is clear in every frame. They don’t “set them up” so much as they set the scene in order for us to peek through the window into the characters’ world.
Dina’s getting married in a few weeks and there’s still so much to do. She has to move her boyfriend, Scott, from his parents’ house to her apartment, and settle him in to only the second home he’s ever had, all while juggling his schedule as an early morning Walmart door greeter. She has to get her dress, confirm arrangements with the venue, and make peace with her family, who remain nervous for their beloved Dina after the death of her first husband and the string of troubled relationships that followed. Throughout it all, in the face of obstacles large and small, Dina remains indomitable. She’s overcome tragedy and found the man she wants and, at age 48, is bent on building the life for herself that she believes she deserves. Dina is unstoppable, a force of nature, and as the star of her own life story, she’s an unconventional movie protagonist the likes of which hasn’t been seen before.
Sickles and Santini excel at constructing a respectful (but never cold or clinical) distance from their subject, using long takes to let her explain herself in her own words. Dina is hypersensitive, self-aware, emotionally generous and, sometimes, ordinarily vain (on the beach in a leopard-print swimsuit,she craves compliments). She describes herself as “a strong-willed person” and “a butt girl” and is candid with her feelings. But the film is no pity party; instead, it’s a fascinating, rare look at how intimacy is built and sustained.