Leap Year (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner25/11/2010

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 94 mins

Impressively directed and superbly written, this is an emotionally powerful drama with a stunning central performance from Monica del Carmen.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Australian-Mexican Michael Rowe, Leap Year (not to be confused with the atrocious Amy Adams non-com) is set in Mexico City and stars Monica del Carmen as Laura, a freelance journalist from Oaxaca, who lives alone and works from her flat.

Lonely and bored (despite lying to her family on the phone about her active social life), Laura frequently ventures out to nightclubs and returns with a series of depressing and unfulfilling one-night-stands (most sneak out in the early hours, one calls his wife as soon as the sex is over, etc).

However, when Laura brings home would-be actor Arturo (Gustavo Sanchez Parra), he appears to want to see her again and the pair begin a disturbing sadomasochistic relationship which quickly escalates in intensity. Meanwhile, Laura is doggedly crossing off the days before the 29th of February on her calendar and as the date draws closer its significance is finally revealed.

The Good
Monica del Carmen delivers an astonishing, entirely vanity-free performance as Laura that is thoroughly convincing and perfectly captures the boredom of living alone in a big city. It's also beautifully observed – for example, there's a scene where Laura casually picks her nose while surfing the internet that is momentarily shocking because it's something you never usually see on screen.

Aside from an amusing opening sequence at the supermarket, the camera never leaves her flat, creating a powerfully claustrophobic atmosphere while also allowing the audience to acutely experience the four walls that constitute Laura's life.

The Great
Rowe's control of his material is assured, particularly in the increasingly upsetting sex scenes that graduate from low level slapping to asphyxiation, urination, burning with cigarettes and knife play. These scenes are often horrific to watch, but they're also frequently followed by post-coital scenes where the couple is happy and relaxed, so you start to wonder if, in a weird way, the relationship might not be good for Laura after all.

The film also deserves praise for the subtlety of its script, which allows you to fill in some of the gaps for yourself rather than spelling it out to you, Hollywood-style.

Worth seeing?
Leap Year is a brilliantly acted, powerfully emotional drama that marks writer-director Michael Rowe out as a talent to watch. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

Leap Year (18)
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Content updated: 16/12/2017 01:15

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