Dina – Movie Review

Dina – NR
Release Date: 2017

Sometimes you watch a film, and you can just tell, it’s an instant classic. There’s everything before it, and everything after. There’s something intangible that it just nails. As far as I’m concerned, Dina fits in that category. It’s maybe the first documentary I’ve ever seen that was so well done, whose world is so wholly realized and conceived, you’d swear it was written.

The film follows a pair of superbly cast characters, Dina and her betrothed, Roger. Dina, a lifelong family friend of the director, has a case of Asperger’s Syndrome, but probably the first thing you notice about her is that she’s a diva. She likes to be pampered. She likes to be the center of attention. And she wears exactly the bizarre ensemble that makes her happy: usually something along the lines of a pink shirt, pink shorts and rainbow-striped socks. Roger, who also has Asperger’s and a unique sense of fashion, is her perfect mate, or so the story begins.

As Dina and Roger make their plans, you slowly learn about their mismatched pasts. Roger of extremely limited life experience, (something he’s well aware of), is a challenging match for Dina, who has had more life experience than some could handle. And in the intimacy department, Dina has a healthy appetite, while Roger struggles with holding hands and kissing. For a reference point, we observe their bachelor/bachelorette parties intercut. Roger and his friends go bowling and get excited about strikes, while Dina and her friends are visited by a male dancer who unabashedly gyrates for their squeals.
What carries Dina into classic territory, is its astute observational eye. The film’s edit captures all the right moments to help us understand these two characters and their interpersonal dynamic. Some of the moments are blink-and-you’d-miss-them subtle, but if you’re paying attention, every single edit paints a striking picture.

Another way the film distinguishes itself is with its unique aspect ratio and pastel color grading. The film is shot in a one-of-a-kind not-quite-square format. (The director mentioned the specific aspect ratio in the Q&A, but I don’t remember what he said.) Dina’s wardrobe, and interior decor already have a warm, nostalgic feel to them, but the overall color grading, coupled with the cozy frame give the entire film a lived-in quality. We might be peering into Dina’s inner sanctum, but somehow it feels welcoming.

Dina is the go-to documentary if you want a doc that doesn’t feel like a documentary. It also happens to be the go-to film if you like film.

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