05th Mar2021

Frightfest Glasgow 2021: ‘The Woman With Leopard Shoes’ Review

by Matthew Turner

Stars: Paul Bruchon | Written and Directed Alexis Bruchon

Written, directed, produced, shot and edited by French filmmaker Alexis Bruchon (who also composed the music), The Woman With Leopard Shoes marks an impressive debut feature and also serves as an object lesson on what can be achieved with zero budget and a single location.

Jokingly described by Bruchon as “the story of a man walking around a desk”, the film stars Paul Bruchon (the director’s brother) as an unnamed burglar, who’s engaged by a mysterious woman (he’s blindfolded, so he only sees her leopard shoes) to steal a box from a large house, no questions asked. All goes well, until the thief is about to leave the house, at which point dozens of party guests arrive, forcing him to hide in the study. There’s just one problem: he discovers a dead body in the cupboard, at which point he starts to wonder if maybe, just maybe, he might have been set up.

A further twist occurs when a woman enters the room (again, he’s hiding under a desk, so he only sees her leopard shoes) and leaves a phone with a message saying “Text only”. The person on the other end claims to be the woman who hired him and she says she’ll do what she can to get him out. But can she be trusted?

The film’s simple conceit allows for the story to unfold with minimal dialogue, so it’s almost a shame when the phone appears and the rest of the film effectively becomes a series of text messages, even if Bruchon does manage to pull off a couple of nice twists in the process.

Bruchon shoots the entire film in black and white, giving the picture a suitably noirish atmosphere as well as echoing French New Wave movies. What’s particularly impressive is the large variety of ways in which Bruchon exploits his single room location, to the point where you get to know every object and how each object might be instrumental in aiding the thief’s escape.

As the only (living) face we see in the film, Paul Bruchon has real screen presence, especially considering he has next to no dialogue – it’s his first film, but it really feels like we’ll be seeing him again. The only drawback is that in making his character so mysterious, you don’t know enough about the thief to be really invested in his safety when things start going wrong.

On top of that, the ending feels a little anti-climactic, although that’s arguably the point, leaving an extra air of ambiguity as to what really happened. At any rate, Bruchon has stated his intention to make a trilogy of similar single location genre films (horror and paranoiac thriller are the next two), so perhaps that ambiguity will turn out to be part of a larger puzzle. For the moment, this is an engaging and entertaining exercise in low budget filmmaking that gains an unexpected extra resonance, given that it’s essentially the perfect lockdown movie.

*** 3/5

The Woman With Leopard Shoes screened today as part of Glasgow Frightfest 2021.

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