By Don Simpson | June 30, 2011
Director: Michael Rowe
Writers: Michael Rowe, Lucia Carreras
Starring: Monica del Carmen, Gustavo Sánchez Parra, Armando Hernández
Not to be confused with the Anand Tucker’s overtly saccharine Leap Year (2010), starring Amy Adams and Matthew Goode, Michael Rowe’s Mexican import focuses on the bleak life of Laura (Monica del Carmen).
Except for the opening scene, in which Laura goes grocery shopping, the camera does not leave her Mexico City apartment. Laura, a freelance journalist, only leaves her apartment to stock up on food and find new men to lure back to her lair. We gaze upon Laura as she puts away groceries, cooks dinner, talks on the phone, masturbates, has sex with a random guy, talks on the phone some more, types on her laptop, watches television, has more sex with other random guys…rinse and repeat. The monotony of Laura’s life is strangely lulling yet utterly depressing.
One fateful night Laura brings Arturo (Gustavo Sánchez Parra) back to her apartment. Arturo takes her from behind, slaps her ass, and Laura takes it all in stride. Arturo comes back another night for more, this time slapping her across the face before nearly strangling her. Arturo comes again and again, each time the sex becomes more and more violent; and Laura continues to accept Arturo’s increasingly sadomasochistic behavior as if a form of penance for sins she has committed in the past. For both Laura and Arturo, sex is a recreational activity, not an emotional connection. Despite Arturo’s perceived dominance during their sexual trysts, Laura always maintains full control (golden showers and all). Arturo may not realize it, but he is merely a puppet submitting to Laura’s will.
Rowe — an Australian-born writer who has been living in Mexico for 16 years — has formulated a heartbreaking account of hopelessness, self-isolation, and sexual aggression. The winner of the Camera d’Or prize at Cannes 2010, Leap Year is a subtle and subdued character study about an intelligent and doughy young woman whose calendar suggests that something wicked this way comes. The hashed-out days on Laura’s calendar are quickly approaching February 29th, a day that is menacingly designated in blood red.