Producing a unique piece of cinema is something that has become harder and harder these days. With film making starting in the 1820’s and the first feature wowing viewers around 1906 it’s no surprise that audiences feel they have seen it all before which is why it’s so much more impressive when a film like The Woman with Leopard Shoes comes along.
Stylish and slick from start to finish this minimalist masterpiece is a thriller that provides genuine thrills with its immensely original styling and set up. Beautifully shot in black and white this precise piece of French noir starts with a burglar (Paul Bruchon) taking what seems like a simple job from a mysterious woman who wants him to steal a box from the address she provides.
Breaking and entering the thief is nearly finished with his task when the house is suddenly filled with guests arriving for a lavish soirée that is set to end on a fantastic fireworks display. Trapped in the study he remains unseen and starts his search for a way out only to discover a blood stain on the floor and a dead body stuffed in a closet.
Panicked and in a perilous place the robber must now stay concealed or face the consequences of not only his felony but someone else’s far worse wickedness as well. So begins his Herculean task to hide in plain site while hunting for clues to prove his innocence and solve the murder.
Blending the brilliance of a classic Hitchcock crime caper with an ultra-modern twist The Woman with Leopard Shoes evokes equally sensational limited location movies such as Rope, Buried and Locke with its sparse setting and unique capability to make so much from so little.
Terrifically tense, first time film maker Alexis Bruchon, who also wrote, produced, scored and edited The Woman with Leopard Shoes among other things, superbly squeezes every single moment of menace and mystery from the tightly woven story proving that talent and imagination trumps money and famous faces every time.
In fact the lack of characters countenances apart from the central anti-hero is part of the movies masterful originality as we only see the other figures in the film from the thieves point of view be it hiding behind a door, inside a wardrobe or under a bed.
This leads to the enticing title and a key character who we only observe as a pair of animal print covered high heels. The game is literally a foot as we and the cowering criminal try to work out who is who from their stylish shoes, putting together motives, machinations and more from the pieces of paper and evidence he gathers while planning his escape.
Using cunning camera work throughout the location is both naturalistic and artistic. Playing with the environment every item of furniture is multi functional serving as a place to hide from the masses or to hide vital clues to solve the conundrum. The cinematography, also handled by Bruchon, is stunning with frame after frame appearing like a living work of art.
Packed with twists and turns, blackmail and betrayal the cat burglar with a conscience communicates with several of the party goers via text moving the action along and providing some of the most exciting and suspenseful moments. The atmosphere of fear Bruchon creates is all encompassing and we jump and wince at every noise and shadow placing ourselves right in the room with the unwitting protagonist through everything he must endure.
One of the best thrillers to come out in a long time The Woman with Leopard Shoes is a treat for the senses and the intellect, grabbing the viewer and tossing them into the narrative to try and figure out what is happening before the party is over. This is a movie not to be missed and its creator Alexis Bruchon is a true talent who we can’t wait to see more from.
The Woman with Leopard Shoes plays as part of FrightFest at the Glasgow Film Festival between the 5th and 8th March. Find out how to watch it HERE. You can also read Alexis Bruchon Five Frightfest Facts HERE