2017, NR, 103 min. Directed by Antonio Santini, Dan Sickles.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Oct. 20, 2017
This intimate documentary is billed as a “real-life romantic comedy.” Dina Buno and Scott Levin are a couple about to be married whom the filmmakers observe during the time leading up to the wedding and for a while afterward. Both Dina and Scott are on the autism spectrum, and very much in love.
In addition to her Asperger’s, Dina experiences a multitude of anxieties, which are complicated by a couple of terrible traumas she suffered in the past. She lives in her own apartment outside Philadelphia, and collects disability, but fends for herself and is highly loquacious. Scott is a door greeter at Walmart. He calls himself an “Aspy” and manifests different anxieties than Dina. They share a neurodiverse group of friends, among them married couples.
Scott is moving into Dina’s apartment as the movie begins. Sharing space can be a difficult adjustment for all couples, but especially so when the individuals have clinical boundary issues. Because of this, it seems all the more astonishing that the filmmakers are able to capture the pair in such unguarded states. Santini and Sickles make us care deeply for Dina and Scott, so close is their access. We witness engagement and bachelorette parties, a trip to the beach, Thanksgiving preparation, and more. Gradually, we learn more of the couple’s backgrounds, and witness Dina’s growing frustration in Scott’s lack of desire for sexual relations. At times, the viewer might worry that the characters’ “quirks” might be mined for the promised “romantic comedy,” but that outcome never materializes. Still, I’m as uncomfortable being with Dina and Scott on their honeymoon (complete with Champagne-glass bathtub and round bed) as I would be with any other couple. True, this pair has more than the usual share of obstacles in their path, and watching them surmount the challenges is inspiring. I’m just not sure that Dina and Scott’s struggles with intimacy should be grist for my perusal.