A black-and-white noir crime thriller, in the mould of old spy flicks or movies about socialites and cat burglars. Intrigue and tension abound in this tight, one room clue-cracker. The film is almost entirely silent, with minimal sparse dialogue and a little back and forth over text. The film is entirely carried on the performance of the central character played by Paul Bruchon, the only person we see in the film beyond their shoes or a silhouette. His frantic reaction to being trapped in this situation, followed by waves of relief as he starts to unpick the mystery is all communicated through his expression and physicality.
An unseen woman anonymously hires a burglar to retrieve an item from the house of wealthy man. However, before the burglar is able to make his escape, an entire party’s worth of people arrive at the house, and he is trapped in the back study where everyone has thrown their coats. Using only what is in the room, he must find out why what he’s taken is so valuable, who it is he’s taken it from, and what the stakes are in this game of cat and mouse. This all the while people come and go from the room, and he may be discovered at any moment!
Apart from the obvious film influences like Hitchcock, I was weirdly reminded of the puzzle mobile games. You know, stuff like The Room, where you have to click on everything to figure out how you can use it to unlock the door, or detective games like Innocent, where you get clues piecemeal from unknown and not entirely trustworthy sources and you have to solve the crime.
The Woman With Leopard Shoes proves you don’t need a big budget, an expansive cast, or even a massive set to make a film. Alexis Bruchon has basically made as tense and gripping a film as any Hollywood thriller, and he’s done it with a room, maybe 3 actors total, and some black-and-white film.