Quentin Dupieux, the writer/director who 10 years ago made a homicidal maniac out of a tire in Rubber, now turns his attention to a jacket and the goofball who wears it in the mordantly funny Deerskin. Oscar winner Jean Dujardin stars in this bloody and buoyant blend of horror and comedy that hinges on one man’s obsession.
We never learn much about who Georges might have been before the jacket comes into his life. He was once given to wearing tweedy jackets – at least that is what he wears in the opening frames, soon ditched in the most passive-aggressive way in a gas station lavatory. He was married but announces his permanent separation over a pay phone to his wife and is later shocked to learn she has blocked his access to their joint bank account. And he needs money, if only to add yet more deerskin accessories to his ensemble.
The fringed suede jacket itself – bought from an old man who has kept it in a trunk for 30 years, consigned there when it was no longer fashionable – resembles those favored by the likes of musician David Crosby in the 1960s and ’70s. It is fringed suede, a hippie’s dream of outerwear. It fits Georges like a sausage casing, but he is enamored with it. The jacket enchants this 50-something-year-old who is apparently bent on reinventing himself one sartorial choice at a time.
Settling in a hotel in a small village in the Pyrenees where he knows no one, sets about remaking himself. A home video camera given him by the man who sold him the jacket allows him to call himself a filmmaker. He finds a collaborator in Denise (Adèle Haenel), a bartender who trained as an editor. Moviemaking allows Georges to document his real project: Ridding the world of all other jackets – by any means necessary – so that his deerskin will be the only one.
The absurdity of Georges’ quest and the lengths to which he will go to tilt at that particular windmill drives Deerskin‘s humor. Dupieux has written a screenplay in which the comedy (and the horror) build in increments. Georges begins as a mild eccentric with an apparent flair for grift, his mental instability and loose grasp on reality becoming ever more apparent along with a propensity for sudden violence hidden beneath his doofus personality. Dujardin nails the character’s many shadings and does not give into an actor’s natural tendency to make his character likable. Georges is a wolf in a deerskin wrapper and Dujardin plays that to the hilt.
The Pyrenees setting was a brilliant choice on Dupieux’s part. The natural beauty and serenity of the alpine town provide a potent counterpoint to the chaos Georges creates within it. In returning to an inanimate object once more for inspiration, Dupieux has gifted audiences with a bloody good time. –Pam Grady
Deerskin is available to screen from Roxie Virtual Cinema and other VOD outlets.