The Woman with Leopard Shoes - Grimmfest Easter 2022 Review
Director: Alexis Bruchon
Starring: Paul Bruchon
Written by: Alexis Bruchon
Produced by: Alexis Bruchon
Cinematography by: Alexis Bruchon
Original Score by: Alexis Bruchon
A burglar is forced to hide in the study of a house after the sudden arrival of guests. The situation takes a turn for the worse when he makes a startling discovery.
The estimated budget for this little French noir thriller was €3000. I repeat. The estimated budget for this little French noir thriller was €3000. That is mental and 'The Woman with Leopard Shoes' is testament to the fact that the quality of creativity will always conquer the quantity of resources.
First time director Alexis Bruchon comes from an illustration background which should help to understand the power of his creativity. Bruchon wrote, directed, produced and edited the entire film and considering that his leading man, the burglar (played by his brother Paul) has zero dialogue, the end result is simply staggering. It's a tight, very smart and exceedingly tense mystery that draws you in from the very first scene and through inscrutable yet simplistic storytelling, keeps you hanging. It's the kind of film that demands your full attention during every second of every scene.
The burglar has been summoned to a house to retrieve a small box for a mysterious woman. However after retrieving said box but before he can make his exit, the previously empty house becomes the location of an unexpected party. The burglar must hide in the study and find a way to safely leave the house. A transparent yet captivating premise that becomes increasingly more convoluted when the burglar discovers a dead body hidden in the closet of the study.
Alexis Bruchon brilliantly pays homage to classic French noir and new wave films that he presumably grew up on and loved. That's pretty obvious from the very beginning especially once the quirky horns and jazz trumpets start playing. His playful use of light and shadows is imaginative and beautiful but also actually intrinsic to the plot. It's a technique used to help highlight certain objects in the room and to lure the viewers eyes in a particular direction (or misdirection). There's some very cool camera angles and POVs used too that again are very creative and helps to abet the storytelling. It looks very Hitchcockian and the story lends a lot from the great director too as the burglar slowly begins to unravel the mystery of the woman who hired him and the little box he was hired to retrieve.
Despite the lack of dialogue, sound plays a huge part in the story too. I'm in love with the fun overuse of foley. A lovely throwback to classics from the 60s and 70s. Paul Bruchon has the heavy burden of carrying the film. It's essentially set within one smallish room and Paul doesn't speak so he has to show desperation and anger and relief all through his eyes. It's a lot to ask but thankfully he does a decent job. Even without dialogue the burglar still converses through text messages, which does get a bit tiresome after a while and if your attention wanes, even for a few minutes, you might get a little lost in all the back and forth.
Regardless of the repetitiveness 'The Woman with Leopard Shoes' is an acutely taut and surprisingly entertaining little gem that champions the integrity of independent filmmaking and the boundlessness of competent storytelling.
- Gavin Logan
'The Woman with Leopard Shoes' is part of the Grimmfest Easter virtual film festival April 15th-19th