Anna Brady plans to travel to Dublin, Ireland to propose to her boyfriend Jeremy on February 29, leap day, because, according to Irish tradition, a man who receives a marriage proposal on a leap day must accept it.
According to Irish tradition, a lady may propose to a man on the 29th February which, of course, only occurs in a Leap Year. This simple, fun premise sets Anna (Amy Adams), an urbanite New Yorker, on a tumultuous path across Ireland to Dublin hoping to see her long-term love interest by the 29th and ask for his hand in marriage.
So begins the classic tale of a wide-eyed girl in a completely alien environment. Anna has a multitude of difficulties to contend with from the films onset. Poor weather causes her flight to be rerouted to Wales and then her boat crossing the Irish Sea does not go to plan. Anna eventually Berth’s on the far side of Ireland on the Dingle Peninsular. From this remote area her real difficulties in transport continue. Finding a local pub Anna meets a cavalcade of Irish caricatures that teeter between being slight oddities to mildly offensive for anyone of an Irish persuasion. They might have be been more endearing if their nonsensical dialogue wasn’t so flat, or they weren’t quite such obvious sidepieces. Utterly bewildered by these old Irishmen, Anna finally meets the surly Irish Landlord in the form of Declan (Matthew Goode) and asks for directions.
The story starts to gain a little momentum as Goode brings a subtly cheeky aspect to proceedings whilst employing a passable Irish lilt (though his usual cut-glass English accent does emerge sporadically). Anna learns that there is no transport as it is a Sunday and so is forced to enlist taxi services from the truculent Goode (being the only Landlord/Taxi/Hotelier in the area). Anna’s odyssey to Dublin is revived.
Nature and the travails of the Irish transport networks (which seem to pre-date the Great Wars according to Anand Tucker), draw the two main protagonists closer together. The odd thing is that whilst Declan’s character is developed during this period – we learn the reasons for his cold façade – there is little focus on Anna’s side of the story. The audience is left feeling bewildered as to why she is really making all this effort for a man whom we know almost nothing about, either directly or through her admittances to Declan. This leaves Anna, who at first appeared to be prissy without any overly annoying mannerisms, as an extremely flat character. Obvious comparisons to another ginger comedic actress (Isla Fischer) do not favour Amy Adams.
Declan and Anna seem to fall together like two singletons rather than a lonely soul and an almost betrothed. None of the tension is really developed, there seems to be little guilt or real awkwardness when they are forced into what should be unwanted intimate situations. Needless to say this means that the denouement of the film lacks any real punch and their seems to a be a certain by-the-numbers inevitability to Declan and Anna’s relationship. Especially since Anna’s original loves interest, Jeremy (Adam Scott), seems smarmy and obsequious from the off. There was also the question of why Declan is really interested in this rather dull American girl.
Leap Year should be a fun an interesting romantic comedy with the potential for some hilarious interactions but instead it seems like Anand Tucker’s vision really suffered from the short production time. There is a wealth of material to use, which is poorly exploited and developed.
A reasonably enjoyable film for general viewing and should be enjoyed by fans of the genre. Matthew Goode is charming as always and provides a few chuckles as the cheeky Irishman. There are some beautiful shots of Ireland too, however, there are far better examples of romantic odd-couple films.