Jean Dujardin and a deerskin jacket form an unusual partnership in this surreal French comedy horror, approriately named
Deerskin, which sees him team up with actress of the moment Adele Haenel.
Georges appears to be having some kind of mid-life crisis, hence his purchase of around seven thousand euros for a deerskin jacket. With the seller ecstatic with the money, he throws in a camcorder alongside it which sets up a path of unusual behavior from its main character.
With his bank account blocked by his estranged wife and the bank refusing to loan him money, he is forced to improvise methods
to keep on top of his finance, such as pawning his wedding ring in exchange for staying in his hotel.
He soon makes an ally with waitress Denise whose passion for editing films motivates her to help him out financially with the budget to keep making the film by loaning him money. The film within a film features himself where he harbours a bizarre vendetta against people in the low-key town wearing inferior jackets with progressively gruesome consequences.
Director Quentin Dupieux crafts this unusual hybrid of dark comedy and slasher horror in 75 minutes with a character whose increasingly
desperate behaviour goes from strange to downright depraved.
Initially, his work sees him ask people to declare their dislike for jackets and place them in the boot of his car, before he drives off with them after paying them with part of the budget. But what starts as just an unusual dislike turns into something far more intense as his behaviour mirrors that of a slasher killer, going from hiring willing people to killing those who just
happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, the conventions of horror displayed vividly.
It is gory but never is the film scary, its surrealism meaning that the dark humour defuses any sense of fright but still power to express shock at how warped the so-called one-man war against clothing has become.
His mentality appears to be one of dubious nature as scenes often depict him having imaginary conversations with the deerskin jacket
inside his hotel room, suggesting a deficiency in his mental state. He also possesses a lack of integrity with the waitress who winds up as his editing partner after persuading her that his ‘colleagues’ in Siberia appear to have ceased contact. As Denise, Haenel is entertaining as ever in a role that sits well alongside Dujardin’s such as when she explains how she once edited Pulp Fiction into chronologic order.
Her commitment to his project is detailed when he requests that she removes her own jacket, agreeing to do so when she makes it clear she
won’t do anything sexual which he insists is not what he’s working on. Her gullible nature is existent but the character is also
strong enough to be played as the conventional dim-witted accomplish, if one can argue her role as such.
With a correct balance of genre, Deerskin is a film so wacky and inventive that it makes Dupriex deserving of conversation amongst the likes
of other surrealist directors like Luis Buneul and Jan Svankmajer. On paper, it looks like an idea doomed to fail on paper but with
engaging performances from Dujardin and Haenel, it is an experience not to be forgotten in a hurry.
OUT OF FOUR STARS: ***