Serotonin depletion is a common metabolic state in Mexican movies, but this unsettling indie, the Camera d'Or–winning debut of Michael Rowe, an Australian-born writer living in Mexico, follows the black dog to the cliff's edge. Essentially a study of brutal loneliness, the film is set entirely in one cheap apartment in Mexico City, where Laura (Babel bit player Monica del Carmen), a chubby business magazine freelancer, spends her days eating alone, enviously spying on a young couple across the way and bringing home disinterested one-night stands. There's a hole in Laura, so to speak, and it has something to do with her dead father and the approaching fourth anniversary of his death (Feb. 28), but soon her vacuum is filled by Arturo (Gustavo Sánchez Parra), a philandering sadist whose escalating attacks are first endured and then seen as salvation. There are trifling signs of freshmanship, but also a steady observant eye, and in the end Leap Year bears heartbreaking witness to hopeless depression, isolation and the failure of sex (some of which looks as real as the cigarette burn on the breast) as few movies ever have. —Michael Atkinson
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LEAP YEAR | Written and directed by MICHAEL ROWE | Strand Releasing | Sunset 5