Año bisiesto

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Año bisiesto (Leap Year)
Michael Rowe
2010, Machete/IMCINE
94 minutes (Spanish with English subtitles)

LATAMROB rating: ***

THERE is a message beneath all the bumping and grinding of Michael Rowe’s Año bisiesto, although it is hard to unravel from behind the sordid cruelty of this film. Set in an impersonal, unfriendly Mexico City, it tells the story of Laura, a freelance journalist originally from Oaxaca who lives in a form of solitary confinement in her lifeless apartment as she tries to cope with a troubled past. When she meets Arturo, a sexual sadist whose perverse role-play becomes increasingly violent and unpleasant, she senses an opportunity to end it all on February 29. The story tells of the weeks before this date and how this ultimately doomed relationship unfolds. Remove the layers, and one finds a tale about female loneliness in a cruel male world superimposed upon one about Mexico’s rural-urban divide. It is no coincidence that the Oaxacan girl in the big city lives a lie, or that Arturo is obsessed with carnal gratification and incapable of amorous depth. When Laura shows an instinctive desire to retain and even take control, Arturo is off like a shot. Monica del Carmen is excellent as the podgy, ice-cream eating Mexican, while Gustavo Sánchez Parra acts out a plausible and sinister bipolar Arturo. Rowe has debuted with what must be one of the cheapest movies ever produced (it is entirely set in Monica’s flat), but it is not entirely without merit and reveals a depth and spirit of inquiry that will take the director further. – IOT

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