A Woman Kills (Blu-ray)

Paris, in the 1960s. A series of crimes troubles the public tranquility. On March, 22, 1968, Hélène Picard, a prostitute sentenced to death two years before for several murders, is killed by executioner Louis Guilbeau.

February 27, 2023 5 Min Read

Review by: Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

The story behind A Woman Kills is arguably more interesting than anything seen during its brief (but still VERY long) 70 minutes. It’s a French film that was lost for over 40 years. Filmed in the 1960’s, it never saw the light of day until it was rediscovered in the 2000’s. While I am not a foreign film fanatic, the story was enticing enough for me to want to check it out. My mind was curious to see just what it had to offer and what caused it to become a lost film. Unfortunately, very little of it works as it mostly feels like an aimless exercise in self-indulgence and weirdness for the sake of being weird.

There is a prostitute names Helene Picard who is executed for murders that she committed. That is allegedly as the murders continue even after her execution. We then follow Police Detective Solange Lebas (Solange Pradel) who is handling the investigation and speaks with the executioner, Louis Guilbeau (Claude Merlin) to get to the bottom of what is going on. We do get a plot twist early on that sort of shifts perspective. I won’t spoil things, but it may throw some viewers off. What I was expecting was perhaps an edgy film or something maybe more provocative. At least for the era in which it was made. Those things crossed my mind since it’s heavily announced (on the case and included booklet) about this film being lost. It is only normal to expect that. Expectations aside, the end result left me little more than bored.

What might sound interesting on the surface (and it certainly intrigued me) just becomes a boring exercise in a whole lot of nothingness. The feel to the whole endeavor is simply sluggish and artsy. Not necessarily my cup of tea. Art House purists or collectors might want this in their collection for the rareness of the title, but all others should probably steer clear or at least give it a rent before purchasing.

Video: How’s it look?

The 1.33:1 transfer was decent enough considering the film’s history, but the results weren’t anything to write home about either. There was plenty of print wear and grain seen throughout as well as some specs on occasion. The blacks at least were deep enough to not raise concern. While a flawed image, it got enough right for the casual viewer to not to be too put off.

Audio: How’s it sound?

We get a French 2.0 mono track that sounded as I expected it to. There was a decent enough balance to the whole track that it didn’t feel unnatural by any means. It might lack the clarity of modern films, but all things considered, it served the film as it should.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Intro by Virginie Selavy – A decent overview of the film and its history. For viewers, this is an easy watch. 
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring Kat Ellinger and Virginie Selavy. This gives us some good notes, covering a wide array of topics. Worth a listen for fans. 
  • On the Margin: The Cursed Films of Jean-Denis Bonan – A nearly 38-minute documentary about the Director. It’s interesting enough to warrant a viewing. 
  • Short Films – Of varying length, we’re treated to 5 separate short films. The quality is only decent as are each film. 
  • Booklet – A nice addition to this set is a lengthy booklet included in the packaging with various notes. It adds to the package.

The Bottom Line

I had almost no clue what to expect here, but the results left a lot to be desired. While I can appreciate that this once, lost film has found its way to the public, it doesn’t enhance my enjoyment. For those curious, I would investigate before buying, though, with this being a limited set, you just might want to plunge.

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