GORE IN THE STORE
THE WOMAN WITH LEOPARD SHOES
Directed by Alexis Bruchon.
Starring Paul Bruchon.
Mystery thriller, France, 80 minutes.
Reviewed as part of FrightFest Glasgow 2021.
An unnamed man is tasked by a mysterious woman with stealing an object from a house in the country. No sooner is the job completed when he I suddenly interrupted by the return of the owners and several party guests leaving the thief trapped inside. Whilst trying to make his escape he makes a startling discovery, placing himself slap bang in the middle of a mystery involving deception and murder.
French illustrator Alexis Bruchon makes his cinematic debut with this nicely stylised noir, displaying his influences for all to see. The impressionistic photography of directors such as Fritz Lang, Otto Preminger and Jules Dassin is nicely evoked throughout as the unnamed burglar frantically tries to evade his enclosed surroundings. The character of the burglar portrayed by the director’s brother is also evocative of the gentlemen thieves who were so popular in pulp fiction during the mid-twentieth century. The jazzy retro score is also evocative of vintage crime cinema, especially in the credit sequence which also introduces the films supporting cast, the majority of whom are only seen from the ankle down.
Obviously filmed on a low budget The Woman with Leopard Shoes manages to mostly make a virtue of its limitations. The films eighty-minute run time manages to skim by quickly and pleasurably. Paul Bruchon can get the audience on side despite his near complete lack of dialogue. The sense of peril is nicely conveyed throughout and ramps up skilfully as more and more revelations that have led to the unnamed burglar’s predicament are revealed.
The shortcut of using a mobile phone and text messages displaying the communication between the burglar and his contact soon becomes a crutch, however. The constant use of screen displaying messages, that soon become the films primary method of explaining the mysteries of the plot soon becomes repetitive and in stark contrast to the elegant styling of the rest of the film. In his pursuit of the truth the burglar is relegated to hiding under a bed to text for sections of the film that bog it down slightly. Relying on revealing the plots secrets in such a way causes the film to trip over itself and leads to spots of confusion in who is betraying who.
For the most part it is hard to bear such grudges to the film which is obviously a labour of love for its writer and director who was also responsible for the film’s photography, editing, sound editing and design as well as the production design, music, and costumes. Such handling over a wide variety of departments displays a dedication to work and passion that bodes well for bringing his vision to the screen in the future. His feature length debut may have worked better as a short, but his ambition is presented here with enough skill and verve ensuring that Bruchon is a director with a firm grasp on his distinctive style that could be even more seductive with the help of more resources in the future.