Michael Rowe is an Australian who has lived in Mexico for last 16 years, he’s also a screen writer that could not get a film of the ground, so Michael Rowe decided to direct his character study of loneliness himself a scenario that he had experienced during his years in Mexico City living mostly on his own in rented apartments in a city of 3million people! The original script was based on two people living in one room, with no budget the production was down to Rowe until his equipment, including his computer and camcorder, was stolen. Thankfully a budget was eventually arranged and the film was put into production.
Mexico is still divided along racial lines with foreigners or descendants of foreigners making up the richest 5% of the country with the indigenous people of Mexico making up the poorest section’s of society and generally marginalised from appearing on the media. The main character in Leap Year (2010) is Laura an indigenous Mexican, a single women living on her own, working from home as a freelance journalist, economically vulnerable. A women who lives on the margins of the existing power structure with no real support or family locally. Voyeurism plays a large part in her life, looking and drawing emotion and sometimes sexual gratification from watching her isolated neighbours. Masturbation and sex are her only releases from the boredom and solitude of her life, yearning for companionship she brings home sexual partners that are generally mixed race or middle class married men who are only there for quick sex, never seemingly getting pleasure from the sexual act herself. As you may gather Laura is far from being a simple character, she has been damaged by an unseen relationship with her father, a relationship that suggests sexual activity when she was barely 12 years old, and a relationship that has left her with the need to be punished that only surfaces when she brings home Arturo.
|Monica Del Carmen.|
Rowe’s leading lady Monica Del Carmen gives this study of guilt, tainted sex and loneliness an authenticity that has to be seen to be believed, playing the complex character with deep emotion and excepting the on scene humiliation of being hit, pissed on, beaten and choked. This is not an erotic film and will not eroticise the viewer with the sex looking pretty sad in many of the scenes. Although a depressingly sad film it won a prize for the Best First Feature at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival (Golden Camera), Michael Rowe’s soundtrack free debut movie ought be seen by a wider audience.