Anand Tucker’s romantic comedy “Leap Year,” written by Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfront, offers an endearing look at the way a hard-nosed, anxious-to-marry woman takes matters into her own hands and follows her heart on a romantic whim and ends up disillusioned, chastened and, ultimately redeemed. Though it’s obvious early on that her odyssey will cause her to change her final destination, plenty of aw-shucks scenes, some very funny, hold our interest. Tucker and two fine leads turn this odyssey into a gorgeous love story.
His tempo of the always-funny complications that seem to thwart our heroine’s quest for love is well-paced, the better to show her dawning realization that love is not the well-defined terms of a business proposition but a feeling, perhaps unclear at first, that simply doesn’t go away. Headstrong Bostonian Anna (Amy Adams), who stages properties for sale (the smell of fresh-baked cookies, art and nice furniture brought in to attract potential clients), awaits a marriage proposal from her cardiologist boyfriend of four years, Jeremy (Adam Scott). When it doesn’t come, she decides to surprise him at a conference in Dublin where, based on an old Irish tradition of women proposing to men on Leap Year, she’ll pop the question to him. Of course nothing goes right and, in the company of her hired chauffeur, Declan (Matthew Goode), an Irish publican who’s nursing a heart broken years before, after she endures one mishap after another, she discovers the difference between wanting someone and needing, which, to our delight, leads her to make a big fat romantic u-turn.
The chemistry between the driver and the one driven was magical. At first glance, they couldn’t have looked any more different. With red hair and freckles, Adams looked Irish, he looked like someone in the bleachers at a Red Sox game. She was stylish, dismissive, and snobby (she referred to her suitcase as Louis Vuitton; Hawke simply called it Louis), he was casual, sincere, and an unexpected gentleman. Playing a full speed ahead control freak that seemed to believe that she could control her destiny, Adams is a magnificent force of nature, nailing her character’s confidence (read: arrogance), her belief that things would work out exactly as she planned, and her blindness to matters of the heart. All this set up her crumbling and very touching demeanor when she discovered she was following the wrong path and set up a boffo finish where she found, well, you guessed it. The magnificent Goode offers a nice balance as a laid-back pub owner who, as Anna’s chauffeur, enters into a business relationship with Anna (up to the very end, everything was business with her), mostly to save his pub from dismantling, and finds along the way the courage to face his past as well as the wherewithal to move on.
Top-notch visuals – sweeping views of the Irish coastline, intimate looks at small villages, a very well-shot scene in the ruins of a castle on a hill, an enchanting wedding upon which they happen to stumble – add to the joy of this feel-good production.