Dina straddles the line between quirky, scripted romantic comedy and documentary, though according to all involved with its production and distribution — people who would never, ever act deceptively about such things — it’s apparently purely the latter.
Regardless of the classification, in the center of the lens is engaged Philadelphia couple Dina Buno and Scott Levin, both of whom are on the autism spectrum, in the weeks leading up to their wedding.
Blurring the notion of whether Dina is a depiction of real life or a narrative approximation of it is that Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini shoot the film in a way that feels too organized to be a work of non-fiction.
When their camera isn’t positioned in spots that suggest standard quality independent filmmaking, it exists at a distance and rarely captures activity that feels intrusive to its onlookers — an effect seemingly due to a combination of some extraordinarily good sports and directors who operate in a way that doesn’t inconvenience those who happen to share the same space as Dina and Scott.
Captivating as this “is it or isn’t it” mystery is, and in hopes of not sounding insensitive, the basic act of being in the pair’s world for longer than the runtime of a short film is fairly taxing. While their story isn’t bland by any means, it’s nonetheless one better suited to onscreen brevity.
Still, big emotional surprises await even as Dina operates primarily on fumes. On several occasions, our female protagonist mentions a traumatic moment from her life — one that feels sufficiently covered, yet the incorporation of audio from that event after a tender moment that’s practically its exact opposite forms arguably the film’s most powerful moment.
Grade: B-minus. Not rated but with adult content and language. Now playing at Grail Moviehouse
(Photo: The Orchard)