Radiance Films Brings Long-Lost A WOMAN KILLS To Blu-Ray For the First Time
A Woman Kills opens up to the credits being displayed alongside a simple announcement: Hélène Picard has been executed for her murderous spree. From there, viewers are treated to a literal procedural with a dash of horrific imagery and stunningly heightened filmmaking sensibilities. The first imagery we see is from a mysterious POV, where the camera appears to be practically dragging along the ground and slamming into the walls of an alleyway. If there was ever an example of slinking around, this introduction to Jean-Denis Bonan’s 1968 film is it. It feels as if a 16mm GoPro was attached to a rat, and the animal was let loose with the fear of being chased. This visual representation of being hunted or boxed in is one that is repeated throughout A Woman Kills, which is one of the highlights of experiencing this long-lost film. Now, over 50 years since its release, this fascinating French film will be celebrating its worldwide Blu-Ray premiere, courtesy of Radiance Films.
What is most interesting about A Woman Kills is its complete dedication to one-upping its viewer, but doing so with complete earnestness, rather than achieving any one particular goal. Bonan uses whichever cinematic technique best suits a scene or tone. One could even argue that this lack of cohesion, alongside a score both jazzy and scarily discordant, elevates the creepy tension lurking on screen and in the turbulent streets of 1968 France. With French New Wave tendencies, moments of straight-forward crime procedurals elevate into an expressionistic sense of trying to pick up the pieces. Facts are laid out clearly, and victims of the on-screen murderer are rarely seen alive for longer than a few moments. Through the lens of Solange, her paranoia seeps into the viewer just through how her long walks to the mailbox are captured. The camera becomes an entity all on its own, and we never know who or what is waiting for us.
The last thirty minutes of the film play out in what I can only imagine was a full-on, guerilla style chase sequence. The killer is fleeing from the police, and as stated above, the chase is captured as if a wild animal is on the loose. The camera races behind the murderer in hopes of not getting left behind, bringing a sense of morbid curiosity as to what they may resort to if cornered by the police. At one point in the final few moments, we see the killer for all that is left of them: tired, barely able to stand, ready to give up but unwilling to let it show. All in all, it’s a genuinely restrained final stand-off that elicits some serious chills, which is impressive coming off a bombastic foot chase across rooftops and through abandoned buildings.
Alongside the HD restoration of A Woman Kills, the Radiance Films release is full of plenty of exciting bonus features. From archival features such as some of Bonan’s short films to new audio commentaries, a newly updated documentary on the film, and a booklet featuring new writing on the film and review extracts, this release from Radiance Films is a true treat for those looking to experience cinema that’s been formerly long lost to wide audiences.
The Radiance Films Blu-Ray release of A Woman Kills is out now.