The Leap Years is Singapore's first English-language romance movie. Based on a novella by Catherine Lim, the protagonist is Li-Ann, a schoolteacher who meets a guy (Ananda) by chance on February 29 and decides to try out an Irish leap-year tradition regarding a proposal made on that auspicious date. The drama then follows Li-Ann over four leap years, or 16 years.
When I was in Singapore a couple months back, I asked A Nutshell Review's Stefan what Leap Years was like. Surprisingly, I think for both of us, he said it wasn't bad, and was received very well in Singapore, where it was still playing in April after being released on, appropriately, February 29. The trailer, all 4:53(!) minutes of it (embedded below) didn't do much for me. (There's a short Thai trailer available that doesn't dwell on the English-language aspect.) But then trailers aren't always an accurate indication of how a film might actually be.
According to his review, the movie is carried by the strong performance by Wong Li-lin as Li-Ann. Joan Chen has a small role, playing Li-Ann in her later years.
Here's a bit more from A Nutshell Review:
Wong Li-lin anchors the entire movie with her heartfelt portrayal of Li-Ann. Forget about her dismal big screen debut in the horrid German movie Love Under the Sign of the Dragon, which had her almost sleepwalking through it like a zombie, and having her voice unceremoniously dubbed in German. This one showed what she can do, without succumbing to acting cute unnecessarily. Her Li-Ann has never dated and has been holding out for someone special, and chances upon Ananda's Jeremy at an al fresco cafe one day. So the usual games people play begins, with her putting some Irish 29th Feb tradition to the test, and he plays along, towards the goal of setting up a blind date.
Naturally not everything is as rosy as it seems, since the games ended after a magical outing together, with their pledge of meeting at the same place at the same time, every leap year on her birthday. Cliche lines get thrown about, like the frequently used one about better to have loved and lost than to never had loved at all, but the key theme here is about patience. If you deem him or her special, it's well worth the wait, isn't it? Only fools rush in, as they say. So do expect lines being spouted explicitly which might make you cringe a little, or implicitly suggests something that you'd probably already know of, from the wise old sayings of those who have been there and done that.
As for Ananda's performance (as well as Joan Chen), Tyler Lim of movieXclusive has more on that:
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.
The Leap Years is in limited release in Bangkok from tomorrow at the Apex cinemas in Siam Square as well as Paragon, SF World and a couple Major Cineplex branches.