Director: Michael Rowe
Cast: Monica Del Carmen, Gustavo Sanchez Parra, Marco Zapata
Laura leads a solitary life. A freelancer in an isolated apartment, she has little to no human connection. She lies to her mother, occasionally sees her estranged brother, and barely goes outside her own four walls. But she has a hobby to fill her spare time: sex. Lots and lots of sex. Dirty, casual, lonely sex. When she picks up Arturo (Sanchez Parra) at a bar one night, things get a lot more violent. And by things, of course, I mean sex.
What follows is a series of intense and brutal bedroom encounters. Sometimes on the floor, sometimes across the table, usually involving a belt. Arturo has a thing for cruelty and that gets Laura excited. As their relationship deepens (read: gets more abusive), Laura’s sad existence eventually reveals its source. Counting down the days to 29th February, she’s in desperate mourning and can’t shake off her grief. Which clearly explains her passion for being peed on.
As the enigmatic lead, Del Carmen’s sadness seems sincere, and you never doubt Gustavo Sanchez Parra’s power crazy psycho. But as touching and twisted as Michael Rowe makes Laura’s motivation, Leap Year can’t jump over its main obstacle: the awkward intercourse.
Thanks to the graphic depiction of penetration, words like “subtle” or “well-shot” get thrust to one side. Rowe’s Cannes-winning camera does well to stick to its confined location, but fills it with horrible human contact. It’s great to be provoked, but the challenging content simply blocks any emotions from view. You could praise it for being believable and realistic. But that’s part of what makes it so unpleasant.
Disturbing, graphic and painful to watch. The only way Leap Year could be more uncomfortable is if you accidentally touch the leg of the person next to you halfway through.