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THE LEAP YEARS (Singapore)

  Publicity Stills of "The Leap Years"
(Courtesy from GV)

Genre: Romance/Drama
Director: Jean Yeo Lay Kuan
Cast: Wong Li Lin, Ananda Everingham, Joan Chen, Qi Yu Wu, Tracy Tan, Sylvester Loo, Vernetta Lopez, Nadya Hutagalung, Paula Malai Ali, Allan Wu, Jason Chan Keng-Kwin
Runtime: 1 hr 30 mins
Released By: GV/Mediacorp Raintree Pictures
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://www.mediacorpraintree.com/TLY/

Opening Day: 29 February 2008


Some years ago, while conducting an English language workshop on a hot, dreary afternoon for a large group of students in Singapore, I suddenly felt sorry for them, and decided to tell them a story. It was a romantic love story calculated to make any sixteen-year-old sit up and listen with full attention. I told them about a young Singaporean girl who unexpectedly meets her dream man on a special day - 29 February 1988 - when a quaint old Leap Year custom allows women to make the first move in a romantic encounter. Our heroine does precisely that. Hereafter she and the dream man, both exceptionally attractive and brimming with life's hopes and dreams, are caught in a dizzying spin of events that Fate seems to like visiting upon young lovers. "You will come together at last. But not yet, not yet," says Fate mischievously.

The lovers meet every 29 February over 12 years, in breathless negotiations of the many pitfalls along the path of true love which has never run smooth anyway, before their hopes are finally fulfilled in a spectacular millennial culmination worthy of love's loftiest dreams.

Movie Review:

Beyond the flowery language in love letters as appropriated by Catherine Lim in her short story, The Leap of Love serves as a cautionary fable against the lack of communication in a relationship, a stark show-up against the more romantic notion of a je ne sais quoi emotive connection between two strangers. Romantics would moon over the long tortuous wait shared by the lovebirds while pragmatists would pen it down as 12 years lost in prime marriage years.

Production on The Leap Years actually started on this project in 2005, but it would be a shame not to open a movie about leap years on a leap year. Holding back the movie did not weaken the movie significantly: Wong Li-lin is going to always look this good, and Qi Yuwu was not emoting better here than in 881. I have no idea why Ananda was chosen for his role, and I bet he still doesn't as well. More importantly, Joan Chen is criminally wasted in this movie. Coming off a Golden Horse award this year, the lady must be wondering why she accepted her role in this movie in the first place.

The audience would also wonder why Li-lin was so hard-up on Ananda in the first place, and if the script had managed to work in more of the motivations/connection between Li-lin and Ananda in loving each other at first sight, this would be a truly special date movie.

That said, The Leap Years is one of the very few Singaporean movies that deals with the banal and not local ah beng culture, traditional customs or Jack Neo slapstick. It is a sign of maturation in local cinema when easy themes at hand are exhausted and somebody finally reached out for something global. I hope the writers credited are Singaporeans with English surnames. Hey, the story originated from Singapore's very own Catherine Lim!

The Leap Years was evenly-shot with unobtrusive editing, although I do not understand why the hospital scenes are uniformly over-exposed and grainy. The movie also boosted of a capable supporting cast, though I wish I have two Eurasian friends like Wong Li-lin in the movie. Jason Chen, of Power Rangers DinoThunder fame, turned in a credible performance as Raymond, i-lin's almost-husband. Kudos too, to Vernetta Lopez's minor stony lesbian character: finally gay themes are broached, albeit superficially, without resorting to in-your-face nude men wrangling and screaming.

Movie Rating:

(This movie could be the clincher in a date or a waste of time, depending on which side of life you live on)

Review by Tyler Lim


. Ah Long Pte Ltd (2008)

. Home Song Stories (2007)

. 881 (2007)

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