Tom Van Kalken | 17/08/2020
A high octane thriller that takes off in the opening sequence and doesn’t let its foot off the gas until the closing shot. This film isn’t for everyone, but for fans of absurdity, dark humor, hyper-violence, and killer style; this film hits all the right notes.
In this darkly humorous and often excessively violent thriller amount a middle-aged man grappling with a recent break-up, George (Academy Award winner Jean Dujardin (The Artist)) escapes his former life by relocating to the middle of nowhere and taking up amateur film-making and a collection of deerskin apparel. In the sleepy alpine village, George befriends bartender and fellow film enthusiast Denise (Adèle Haenel, Portrait of a Lady on Fire), and together they set out to document his new life-goal of ridding all jackets from the surface of the earth; a mission impressed upon him by his somewhat self-aware and semi-conscious deerskin jacket.
When trying to describe Quentin Dupieux’s latest 77-minute outing Deerskin, a few comparisons come to mind; the Greek Weird Wave absurdity of Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster, Killing of the Sacred Deer) or the unsettling hyper-violence of The House that Jack Built (2018), but making those comparisons would fail to capture the heart of this bizarrely enjoyable, left-of-center offering about one man’s violent obsession with and possession by, his suede jacket.
The film opens with our protagonist George (Jean Dujardin), a man with little to no backstory, in the throes of a midlife crisis after separating from his wife. In a state of spontaneity and perhaps mild insanity he purchases a deerskin jacket for almost 8000 euros with almost fetishistic enthusiasm. The fact that the jacket is poorly fitting and hideously out of fashion only lends to this portrait of a man with a slightly unhinged frame of mind. As an added bonus, the seller of the deerskin jacket throws in a digital camera that acts as a catalyst for Georges newfound purpose as an independent filmmaker, a role that sets him on a gradual downward spiral towards full-blown insanity.
Deerskin is an odd film. Coming in at just 77-minutes it feels more like an extended cut of a short film than it does a feature. Not that that’s a bad thing; any longer and this film would have felt like it had overstayed it’s welcome. But with the short runtime, Dupieux is able to draw you into his absurdist world just long enough for it to remain intriguing without feeling novel. The original, yet utterly silly, premise also feels like it belongs in the short film genre and is wholeheartedly committed to. It’s the kind of intriguing film you see late one night at a film festival never to be seen again but remembered fondly and spoke of often.
Deerskin certainly isn’t for everyone; t’s strange, silly, disturbing, gruesome, and charming sometimes all at once. But for those who indulge in the absurd, enjoy the profane, and have a stomach for hack and slash, I can’t think of a better film to recommend.