VOD film review: Deerskin
James R | On 07, Nov 2021
Director: Quentin Dupieux
Cast: Jean Dujardin, Adele Haenel
A film about a killer jacket? Before you even reach the end of that sentence, the name “Quentin Dupieux” has likely sprung to mind. The French filmmaker is the master of quixotic oddity, a cinephile whose cinema revolves almost entirely around strange, high-concept ideas. Deerskin, a lethal comedy about a man who falls in love with a jacket made of the titular material, is a natural fit.
Georges (Jean Dujardin) is a nobody when we first meet him, until he becomes the new owner of a tan, tassled jacket. Making him look good – at least in his eyes – he becomes obsessed with the garment, convinced that everyone around him at all times is talking about him and his coat. But what begins as a fashion fascination soon escalates to something darker; he starts to resent other people wearing jackets and, in his determination to stop them doing so, starts to bump off anyone he meets with an outer layer that might rival his.
To do this, he dons another veneer: the facade of a filmmaker, and pays people to act in his faux-documentary, in which their line of dialogue is always promising never to wear a jacket again. But his plan gets more complicated when he winds up agreeing to hire Denise (Adèle Haenel), a local barmaid who with aspirations of becoming an editor. As she cuts together what is rapidly becoming a killing spree, the result is an amateur, unwitting snuff movie that’s as amusingly deranged as it is pathetically narcissistic.
Haenel plays her part with a straight face that highlights the offbeat silliness on display, and Dupieux juggles the tone between fly-on-the-wall horror and mundane comedy with his typically wry, matter-of-fact wit. Like his other projects, there’s an introspective feel to what is such a personal project that we’re almost not invited to be in on the joke.
And yet, unlike his other projects, Deerskin is a rare moment when Quentin lets someone else take the limelight: the star of this study of male mid-life crisis isn’t the jacket but the person wearing it, and Jean Dujardin is a brilliant presence, at once charismatic and vulnerable, openly preening and poignantly ageing, amusingly strange and strangely amusing. His expressive face and knack for physical comedy makes him a comfortable model to shoulder Deerskin – and, although slight, he pulls it off for 80 minutes with style.