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Leap Year Reviews

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Mark A

Super Reviewer

October 26, 2011
A deeply disturbing film, of a woman who allows an abusive man to brutalize her for reasons that only become clear to the viewer as the story unfolds. Laura (Monica del Carmen) works as a freelance journalist. Although not blessed with a svelte body or wildly beautiful good looks, she does alright in getting men to come back to her apartment. One of those trysts, with Arturo (Gustavo Sanchez Parro), becomes a twisted, macabre dance. Laura is a woman who carries a lot of pain, and the reasons for her self-degradation are not readily apparent. One only knows it is somehow tied to Leap Day, which she has marked on her calendar. This is not an easy film that could be called light entertainment. It is dark, and delves into some truly disturbing images that one is reluctant at times to watch. It asks the viewer to plumb the depths of one's soul to try to understand the motives at play. The film is relentless in drawing one into the twisted world these two inhabit. What little bit of hope to be found in this comes at the very end, if one can stay with it.
Danny R

Super Reviewer

June 24, 2011
A stark, haunting character study about a young provencal women named Laura, played by Monica del Carmen in a beautiful observed performance, she is tragically believable and surely delivers one of the finest female turns of this year. This disturbing drama explores loneliness and consensual sexual violence, Laura has moved far away from her family for the excitement of life in Mexico City, but in reality she is desperately lonely and alienated with her life, she tells lies to her mother and family over the phone of non-existent friendships, she spends all day in her small empty apartment crossing off dates on her calender, and at night she masturbates while sneaking a look at a young couple in the opposite apartment, she is jealous and envies of their passion for each other, later in the evening she goes out to picks up a variety of low-life strangers at bars to bring home and have casual sex with, so she won't have to sleep alone, her longing for love and self worth are not helped by the strangers she picks up, but her crippling isolation and emptiness is about to end, when she meets an ideal companion named Artuo, played solidly by Gustavo Sanchez Parra who has a penchant for sexual sadism that meshes with Laura's masochistic misery. They embark on a deeply intense sexual relationship, the sex turns into extreme sexual violence, and the acts become more humiliating and brutal, Laura throws herself completely into it, and pushes her capacity for pain, it seems that she has a hidden agenda, she is using Arturo for a darker purpose. A impressive and confident debut from writer/director Michael Rowe that won this year's Camera d 'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. ( In Spanish with subtitles) Note: this is a very tough movie to watch, and it is very sexually explict, so if that make you feel uncomfortable you should avoid it. Recommened.
January 11, 2012
WAY MORE SICKER & F-ed Up than the Human Centipede 1 & 2 and Mysterious Skin combined... WTF did I just watch? Hahahahahaha
July 8, 2013
Very depressing, very miserable, very real. Great performance from Monica Del Carmen and it must have cost about 50p to make. Minimal budget film makers take note.
February 22, 2013
Año Bisiesto (Leap Year) (Michael Rowe, 2010)

I am willing to admit right up front that some of my problems with this movie come from the fact that I'm really, really uncomfortable with some of the material presented here. When the Netflix description said main character Laura (Babel's Monica del Carmen) gets involved in a sadomasochistic relationship, I figured that was probably the Netflix blurbers' much-storied hyperbole kicking into action, and halfway through the movie, when we get to the kind of butt-smacking that causes women in porn films to exclaim "oh, YEAH!" in THAT voice, I figured my preconceptions were going to be borne out. But oh, how wrong I was, and like I said, I will admit up front that if you are more comfortable with such things, you might find less to criticize here than I did.

But note: I said "might", because the empirical problems with this movie are still there, and they are still mighty.

Plot: Laura is a journalist leading a spectacularly unfulfilling life while keeping up appearances for the folks back home. ("I'm having dinner... I just made steak", she says during a phone conversation to her mother, while scooping beans straight out of the can.) Her love life, in particular, is not giving her anything she needs-it's a series of one-night stands and masturbatory fantasies that leave her no better off than she was before they happened. Until, that is, spurred on by her younger brother (The Ruination of Men's Marco Zapata) finally getting involved in a stable relationship, she decides to go looking for one herself and gets involved with Arturo (Amores Perros' Gustavo Sánchez Parra), who quickly reveals himself to be a brutal, abusive, overly jealous cad of the sort that would have most people fleeing screaming in terror-but Laura seems perfectly fine with it.

It's impossible to watch any sexual-obsession drama from Mexico these days and not compare it to Batalla en el Cielo, Carlos Reygadas' confusing, but accomplished, debut. In short, there is no metric by which you can compare this movie to that one in which this does not fall short. Rowe's faux-cinema-verite camerawork is laughable most of the time, used more as an excuse for crappy lighting and sound more than any artistic pretension (though not to say this movie isn't painfully pretentious). The pace is nonexistent in the first half and glacial in the second, and I say this as a huge fan of such slow-film masters as Ozu, Kieslowski, and Tarr. Simply put, there's nothing here; it's a slice-of-life drama with not enough slice for the S&M fiends and not enough life for anyone else. Half a star because, despite my desperately wanting to, I did not shut it off, persevering to the bitter (and entirely unfulfilling) end. 1/2
August 30, 2012
I hate ChicFlix but this one was pretty good. A wee bit predictable but still enjoyable.
August 30, 2012
Ok, this is not a movie about love, is about madness and sex, wild and masochist sex :D aaaaaand i didn't like it cause i can't understand those people, what i loved is that they used ordinary people, if they were beyond sexy it would have been pure porn
July 8, 2012
beautiful romantic movie mix with timely wits
May 4, 2012
An independent Mexican film that is a great character study about a woman who is very lonely and depressed.
April 17, 2012
Absolutely unorthodox, sexually disturbing and emotionally painful, Leap Year is an affecting low-budget psychological and sexual drama which stuns with its exploration of depression and human loneliness. Almost too raw and too daring, this movie is an intense and powerful challenge for everyone who would try to watch it.

The story-telling and the setting is among the simplest possible I've seen. The whole movie happens in the small depressing apartment of a young journalist in Mexico City. Closed between four unfriendly walls, she experiences each minute of loneliness, depression and isolation. Without anything specific happening, except for her one-night-sex-stands, director Michael Rowe depicts a painfully realistic world in which Laura ( Monica del Carmen) stops being seen as a movie character, but as a real person by the audience. The appearance of Arturo ( Gustavo Sanchez Parra) as the man who challenges and crosses the sexual boarder of Laura is something much more than an explicit and violent psycho-sexual study. It is a stronger way to depict the absolute human loneliness of Laura and her hopelessness.

Leap Year is not only about the strange story of a young woman, but also the unexpectedly raw craftsmanship of Michael Rowe. Being totally unknown to the wide audience, he has delivered a movie that shocks, disturbs and challenges in a very human way. With an aesthetic direction he has made this one-room drama an extremely tense movie while bringing up a terrific performance by Monica del Carmen.

There is no doubt that Leap Year is not for everyone. It would disturb you, it would challenge you, it would provide you with more questions than answers. Questions that would make you realize that you actually care about the Laura, long after the final credits. A very, very demanding movie, but truly rewarding !
June 19, 2011
One of the most honest, real portrayals of a lonely woman that I have ever seen. Be prepared to feel uncomfortable.
January 14, 2012
This film was beautiful depressing.
Pier B.
January 8, 2012
A flat, pretentious, and gratuitous film that tries to pass as a rather poor character study.

No plot, no camera narrative... seriously why did they even bother to make this film?
January 4, 2012
I could not believe what I was watching, and after talking about it so much, I had to watch it once again, this time to analyzed why it was so effective, I realized then,
I had just watched one of the best dramas, I have ever seen, the commitment by the actors and the care and attention to detail by the Director was amazing, every angle had a purposed, even the things that we don't see and those that are subtle and play for symbolisms are so well thought out. I love this film.
January 2, 2012
one of the best film I have seen in 2010
Liza F.
December 20, 2011
Don't be fooled by the 100% rating the pro critics gave this movie. It's boring. I couldn't finish watching it. It's visually and spiritually depressing. Practically the whole thing is filmed inside the lead character's ugly, little, apt. It feels like a play. Every character is depressing to look at and listen to. The writing and plot are decent enough to keep you a little interested. But in the end EVERYTHING else is so depressing you just don't care what happens to the characters. The sex scenes do not save this film in the least. I actually felt sorry for the actors who had to demean themselves to do those sex scenes.
December 19, 2011
(4 stars) I was tempted to fast-forward parts of this movie, (except the "good" parts, of course) but the ending changed the whole experience of the film for me. I find that I am increasingly haunted by it as time goes by.
December 6, 2011
A sparse, ultra low-budget film from Mexico, but one that paints a haunting portrait of despair through scenes of sex, S + M, and inherent loneliness.
The Bad Guy
November 29, 2011
I'm not really sure how I feel about this movie.
November 28, 2011
So Cinema is art. There is no question about it. Some of it definitely is garbage and not art but most of it and fundamentally is art. It is a mean of expression and as such it does not matter what the final outcome is. It does not need to be liked and it it should not be measure by how well it is received, because its fundamental purpose is to express. Cinema can reflect reality, be its negative, twist its boundaries or be a mix of all of the above. Cinema today seems to be delimited by moral and marketability. Moral because in comparison to what can be thought of, very few things can and are shown on screen (think of the worst you have seen and now think of the worst you could see). Marketability because to a certain extent Cinema needs financing, so most unmarketable films are usually very cheap and limited by this fact. Every time I see a movie like Leap Year I think about this, I want to jump immediately and declare it a piece of useless shit (like there was a time where shit could be useful). But then I stop and realize that there must be films like this, even if nobody likes them (at least 23 on Rotten Tomatoes), even if its creator and me do not like it. Because there are many things, thoughts and situations that can and should be expressed, for the sake of it. Leap Year shows what seems to be common people (as opposed to Ryan Phillipe and Charlize Theron) in an apparent not common behavior, but if it wasn't for this film we would not think or realize it exists. You may not like, it may be ugly, but there it is, expressing. And for that single reason it is beautiful. The film it self is bad-looking and boring and it seems like its whole point is the explicit scenes, just like "9 songs". Where Leap Year is different and certainly scores is in the twist of the story, much like "Batalla en el Cielo". Should you watch it? It all depends on why do you watch movies. If you have tried and sat through something like Naqoyqatsi (or any of the gems mentioned above) then you should definitely give this a try.
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