The Woman with Leopard Shoes is, at least on the surface, as basic as cloak-and-dagger thrillers get. One actor, one location, and one central mystery. A burglar, trapped in a back room, searching for a box he’s been hired to lift. Outside, a party’s in full-swing, and he’s one nosy neighbour away from being found-out.
The most we see, beyond the frenzied face of rugged leading man Paul Bruchon, is shoes. A great deal of them (yes, some leopard), with some exquisite below-the-knee acting to boot. And yet it takes mere minutes for the film, and its multi-hyphenate creator Alexis Bruchon, to well-and-truly hook you, and more-so than any other micro-budget effort in recent memory.
The magic is in the craft; despite resting on a seriously shoestring set-up, The Woman with Leopard Shoes is brought to life with such playful gusto, it’s impossible not to get caught up in its whirlwind. It runs with a loud, bouncy sense of style, oozing more colour and cheek from its dialled-down monochrome than you’d ever think possible from a friends-and-family-style situation.
After all, anyone with an iPhone can make a movie now, or so the line goes. Filmmaking has been democratised, once and for all, by cheap camera gear, cheap sound equipment, and a free and open internet, where just about anyone can post their stuff and make it big.
But what none of this open-forum talk ever seems to actually call for is talent. Yes, anyone can technically point a camera and press record, and many might manage something that’s good looking too. But few have that all-important eye for visual storytelling; how to grip an audience with barely a mutter of dialogue; how to set a break-neck pace without shooting atop a runaway train or in the back of a speeding car. Bruchon has this sort of talent in spades.
From the ultra-sleek, ultra-dark cinematography (by Bruchon), to the pounding, utterly sizzling score and sound-design (also, both by Bruchon), this is a tiny, one-man operation that does more with the conservative hand it’s been dealt, than most mid-budget thrillers manage with three-hundred-times the resources.
The one caveat, if there is one to find, is in the writing. A bare-bones mystery at the centre kicks off with a beautifully morbid discovery, only to stall several times over. At a lean eighty-minutes, Bruchon plays to his strengths time-wise, but there is certainly a lack of fire in the actual events themselves, even if they play out stylishly.
All in though, Alexis Bruchon’s jazzy, black and white pot-boiler is nothing short of a zero-budget marvel; ultra stylish proof that even with the most limited of resources, a talented filmmaker will always shine through.
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