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Leap Year

John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

Matthew Goode and Amy Adams star in a scene from the movie "Leap Year."
With its action set mostly in Ireland, the likable romantic comedy "Leap Year" (Universal/Spyglass) features background details of life on the Emerald Isle more akin to 1952's "The Quiet Man" than to the post-Celtic Tiger contemporary reality. But the film's central, opposites-attract relationship is old-fashioned in the best sense, with physical restraint on the part of its main characters allowing room for a dexterously acted, if somewhat formulaic, portrayal of their deepening emotional engagement.

Hating each other at first sight (and thus bound to fall for each other eventually) are controlling Boston real estate consultant Anna (Amy Adams)—who specializes in temporarily decorating empty apartments to make them more appealing to prospective buyers—and laidback Dingle Peninsula innkeeper Declan (Matthew Goode).

Anna's plans to surprise her commitment-shy live-in boyfriend Jeremy (Adam Scott) by following him to Dublin, where he's attending a cardiologists' convention—and where she hopes to take advantage of a Sadie-Hawkins-like national tradition allowing women to propose on Leap Day—have been derailed by the weather, stranding her in Declan's picturesque but out-of-the-way corner of the world with Feb. 29 looming.

So, despite their initial head-butting, Anna hires Declan, who doubles as the local taxi driver, to get her to the capital in his "classic" (read barely operative) auto.

Amid the adventures that follow, Anna learns to relax, and the outwardly unflappable, but repressed Declan gradually opens up about the emotional scars inflicted by a previous relationship. Perhaps, ironically, because of her existing commitment—such as it is—to the insufferably smug Jeremy, Anna and Declan resist giving way to their growing attraction, even during a stay at a roadside bed-and-breakfast where they must pretend to be married to gain admittance to the one room—and one bed—on offer.

Though they share the bed, and though he jokes about the transparency of the shower curtain that substitutes for a bathroom door, the pair go no further than the passionate kiss demanded of them by their hosts, over an after-dinner drink, as a token of their newlywed ardor.

As scripted by Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont, director Anand Tucker's Hibernian idyll—which includes two sympathetic if incidental priest characters—thus allows the couple's discovery of each others' endearing qualities to unfold at a natural pace and in circumstances that make it, despite the elements described below, probably acceptable for older teens.

The film contains implied cohabitation, some mildly sexual humor, at least two uses of profanity, one of the S-word and a few crass terms. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

John Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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Charles de Foucauld: Born into an aristocratic family in Strasbourg, France, Charles was orphaned at the age of six, raised by his devout grandfather, rejected the Catholic faith as a teenager and joined the French army. Inheriting a great deal of money from his grandfather, Charles went to Algeria with his regiment, but not without his mistress, Mimi. <br /><br />When he declined to give her up, he was dismissed from the army. Still in Algeria when he left Mimi, Charles reenlisted in the army. Refused permission to make a scientific exploration of nearby Morocco, he resigned from the service. With the help of a Jewish rabbi, Charles disguised himself as a Jew and in 1883 began a one-year exploration that he recorded in a book that was well received. <br /><br />Inspired by the Jews and Muslims whom he met, Charles resumed the practice of his Catholic faith when he returned to France in 1886. He joined a Trappist monastery in Ardeche, France, and later transferred to one in Akbes, Syria. Leaving the monastery in 1897, Charles worked as gardener and sacristan for the Poor Clare nuns in Nazareth and later in Jerusalem. In 1901 he returned to France and was ordained a priest. <br /><br />Later that year Charles journeyed to Beni-Abbes, Morocco, intending to found a monastic religious community in North Africa that offered hospitality to Christians, Muslims, Jews, or people with no religion. He lived a peaceful, hidden life but attracted no companions. <br /><br />A former army comrade invited him to live among the Tuareg people in Algeria. Charles learned their language enough to write a Tuareg-French and French-Tuareg dictionary, and to translate the Gospels into Tuareg. In 1905 he came to Tamanrasset, where he lived the rest of his life. A two-volume collection of Charles' Tuareg poetry was published after his death. <br /><br />In early 1909 he visited France and established an association of laypeople who pledged to live by the Gospels. His return to Tamanrasset was welcomed by the Tuareg. In 1915 Charles wrote to Louis Massignon: “The love of God, the love for one’s neighbor…All religion is found there…How to get to that point? Not in a day since it is perfection itself: it is the goal we must always aim for, which we must unceasingly try to reach and that we will only attain in heaven.”   <br /><br />The outbreak of World War I led to attacks on the French in Algeria. Seized in a raid by another tribe, Charles and two French soldiers coming to visit him were shot to death on December 1, 1916. <br />Five religious congregations, associations, and spiritual institutes (Little Brothers of Jesus, Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Little Sisters of Jesus, Little Brothers of the Gospel and Little Sisters of the Gospel) draw inspiration from the peaceful, largely hidden, yet hospitable life that characterized Charles. He was beatified on November 13, 2005. American Catholic Blog You know, O my God, I have never desired anything but to love you, and I am ambitious for no other glory.

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