Out today from Radiance Films is the long-lost French film ‘A Woman Kills’. According to an introduction to the movie, A Woman Kills was the victim of a number of factors that kept it from being distributed when it was produced at the end of the 1960’s. The director’s previous short film had been utterly banned by French authorities and despite enthusiasm for Kills, the film was shelved without completed credits and sat untouched for 40 years until it was restored and screened in 2010. The plot is described thus in the press release:
‘A series of prostitute murders disturbs the public with the thought of a serial killer on the loose. Hélène Picard, a prostitute, is sentenced and executed for the murders, but shortly thereafter similar crimes continue. Executioner Louis Guilbeau meanwhile develops a relationship with the investigating officer, Solange, who soon learns Louis may not be who he says he is.’
This is the first release I have covered from the newly formed Radiance Films. I learned about Radiance and A Woman Kills a few months back from a The Disconnected Podcast interview with Radiance founder Fran Simeoni. Hearing Fran speak about Kills and putting the disc together peaked my curiosity, so when the opportunity to review the Blu-ray arose I was eager to dive in.
Radiance does not disappoint, the Blu-ray and its case are all a rather classy affair. The disc release for A Woman Kills almost feels like a film history course. The director of Kills, Jean-Denis Bonan, and the film itself are a little on the obscure side so all the special features seem to have been carefully selected to bring you up to speed on his body of work. There is an introduction by Virginie Selavy, that can be watched before the film and offers insight into Kills belated exhibition. Then there is a 37-minute documentary on Bonan and his films as well as a booklet of essays included in the Blu-ray case. Finally, there are five of Bonan’s short films (Including the one that was banned) and the trailer. All this material, as I was going through it, felt less like a collection of special features and more like an educational ‘classroom in a box’ course on Bonan and his work. It is well curated and in a little more than two hours you can go from not knowing the director at all to being a minor expert in his early work.
The case is the full-cover art style box used in Criterion Collection releases and features a reversible cover with different art and French title on the inside. Inside the cover sleeve, is a small insert with technical information like you see on some LP releases like Mondo. This is separate from the cover and could be discarded if you chose to, but I thought it added to the aesthetic and kept it. On the whole, I was impressed with both the movie itself and Radiance Films product. I look forward to reviewing more films from their ambitious slate of future releases.
Adam Ruhl is a writer and life long Cinephile. He is the Executive
Cinema Editor of Pop Culture Beast’s Austin branch; covering festivals,
conventions, and new releases. When not filing reports, Adam can be
found stalking Alamo Drafthouse Programmers for leads on upcoming
DrafthouseFilms titles. Adam once blocked Harry Knowles entrance to a
theater until he was given extra tickets to a Roman Polanski movie.