Sexual depravities, in mainstream films, appears to be the trend, of late. Take World’s Greatest Dad starring the hugely commercial actor Robin Williams –
no, not a tale about good parenting but rather a dark tale about the
death of his son, through auto-erotic asphysication. The same, of
course, cannot be said of arthouse films; sometimes pornography masquerading as something seemingly more acceptable,
it allows interested parties to enter into a respectable theatre rather
than a musty-smelling venue bejewelled with questionable patrons,
shifting in their seats at certain points (excuse the pun) of the
film. Certainly, the main aim is to titillate. The more extreme, the
darker the crowd in attendance, and the stronger the PR; with, of
course, the media up in arms over the explicit content (or not,
depending on the publication).
So, if torture, golden showers and submission is your
predilection, then you won’t be disappointed with Michael Rowe’s debut
film Leap Year. But be prepared for – wait for it – a story with some serious character development,
as it takes a serious delve into twisted souls. Unlike most films of
this genre, one can actually justify the sexual content and if you can
get past the obvious, you will find the true beauty that lies in heart
of this film.
On the surface, the pornographic elements are in full steam, with the
female lead naked for at least 90 per cent of the screen time, a
plethora of male lovers and a number of varied sexual acts that may be fantasized about by down-right wicked souls but are a tad depraved to be exercised in real life.
Let’s face it, if a male lover went anywhere near his lover’s nipples
with a burning cigarette, he may be greeted with a lawsuit rather than a
groan of pained ecstasy. Yup, you’re probably now getting the picture.
Leap Year blurs the lines of titillation. There’s no lithe,
beautiful woman with flowing, golden hair tumbling about her bouncing
breasts. Instead, we are presented with Laura (Del Carmen) a
dumpy, short woman (muffin-top and all), plain in face and no friends to
drag into the obligatory freesome. It’s no wonder that the different
blokes that she brings home for her regular one-night stands are pulling
up their pants and making for the door, literally moments, after a bunk
Finally, one of her conquests, Arturo (Sánchez Parra) decides to return for more and her desire to feel wanted is fulfilled. At least, to a point. Like all relationships, there’s got to be a compromise. He wants kinky sex and she just wants someone to watch the telly with.
So they have sex, watch telly, and he buggers off until he feels like
turning up for another more depraved session. As he pushes her more to
the extreme with ever more demanding perverted acts, sometimes catching
her a wee bit by surprise (note the use of adjective here for a clue),
she embraces it with insecure relish. What eventually transpires is that
she may well be the darker of the two.
Excellent character development and a plot that unfolds with great subtly keeps the viewer hooked into the narrative. In the first act, the set up allows us to empathise with the lead actor, very quickly. Writer-director Michael Rowe and screenwriter Lucia Carreras feed
us with poignat moments of her despair, her loneliness and sexual
frustration. By the time she acting like a pro ‘Ho on the block’, we
understand. Monica Del Carmen (Babel) gives an extraordinary leading performance supported by Gustavo Sánchez Parra (Man on Fire).
Go and see the film for titillation if you must, but better still, go
for human exploration – it’s dark, twisted and one of the best films
out there. One of those ‘naughty’ arthouse films, that is not only unique but also exemplary.