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Friday, October 16, 2015

Movie Review - Leap Year

Leap Year is a delightful romantic comedy, starring Amy Adams and Matthew Goode, a gorgeous, sultry British actor seen in The Good Wife and Imitation Game. More fairy tale than reality, the movie is filled with Irish charm and funny "fish-out-of water" scenes where a posh American must maneuver the obstacles of a backward, foreign culture to find her true love.

The story starts out with Adams as a successful New York real estate staging consultant, set on getting a marriage proposal from her stodgy surgeon boyfriend, played by Adam Scott. When he presents her with a pair of diamond earrings instead of an engagement ring, she decides to take matters into her own hands.

Influenced by an Irish family tradition where females are allowed to propose marriage on leap year, Adams follows Scott to a medical conference in Dublin with plans to pop the question herself. But as fate would have it, turbulent weather intervenes, diverting her flight to Cardiff, Wales. In a Planes, Trains, and Automobiles moment, she ends up stranded in the small Welsh town of Dingle with only two days to get to Dublin before February 29th arrives.

Sparks fly when she meets up with local pub owner, Goode, who agrees to drive her to Dublin for a fee. As it turns out, he only has ten days to satisfy his creditors or he risks losing everything. The entire film is a race against time where one obstacle after another keeps Adams further away from her potential fiancé and Goode that much closer to bankruptcy.

A note about Matthew Goode: his stunning good looks and witty charm make the movie work. Adams plays the same character we have seen in most of her other films, but Goode is the spice that makes the film funny and memorable. His goofy mannerisms interplayed with handsome smiles and flashes from his crystal blue eyes are a winning combination. I liked his running jokes where he called her Louis Vuitton suitcase "Louie" and made it a habit to refer to Adams as "Bob." Obviously, the sexual attraction is there, but it is never acted upon, other than a gratuitous scene with a non-opaque shower curtain.

As they begin their road trip in a tiny, sputtering car, Goode hits Adams with the awful truth that this leap year tradition is pure nonsense. Basically, he confronts her with the hard reality that she is in love with a man who is avoiding commitment and has no plans to marry, regardless of her belief in Irish folklore. His brash demeanor sets off a motherlode of fireworks that ignites the animosity between the two, leading to a car crash, robbery, bar fight, and a pair of six hundred dollar high heels in a steaming cow pie, all in quick succession.

But as with all well-tooled romcoms, the relationship soon begins its slow turn, like a ship maneuvering the high seas. Tender moments where Adams helps Goode cook a gourmet meal at a little bed and breakfast build the romance, as she begins to witness his talent in the kitchen and he observes her eye for staging a room and making things beautiful. The chemistry builds when they are forced to share a kiss over dinner, which ignites more fire than either of them would care to admit. His abrupt retreat creates some confusion, making Adams wonder if he is truly interested. But the viewer senses Goode is harboring a secret hurt that prevents him from falling in love. While she questions her commitment for her fiance, Goode questions whether he should give romance a chance with this quirky American girl.

** SPOILER ALERT **

Through a bit of gentle needling, Adams gets Goode to spill the beans and share his sad tale; a typical scenario of a lost love who left him for a best friend. It is a simple but necessary scene that proves to Adams that she has now gained his trust. As one would expect, the relationship moves toward a place where futures can take drastic turns, but then, as timing would dictate, they find themselves in Dublin where Scott awaits. To Adams' shock, he proposes in the hotel lobby in front of Goode, compelling her to give a swift answer. Of course, she gives a resounding "yes" but with less enthusiasm than what she had originally planned. Goode is crushed (as is the viewer) and makes a quick retreat back to his Welsh home.

As Adams returns to New York and resumes her opulent life with Scott, she realizes something is missing. The witty banter and fiery sparks she experienced with Goode are missing from her relationship with this dull man who only thinks of money and self. Before long, Adams realizes she has been duped and that she is about to make a terrible mistake. Taking a chance, she returns to Wales to find Goode running a thriving restaurant. Even though leap year has long passed, she makes the bold move and asks him to spend his life with her before a full house of patrons. I won't give away any more, other than to say that things don't turn out as expected-and yet, they do.

This is a wonderful, little date flick that was released in 2010, but has recently come out on Netflix and found an audience. It is rare for its genre, in that it is fairly clean and void of profanity and gratuitous material. A nice bit of entertainment with the spouse or significant other! Watch and enjoy.

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