Deerskin is an odd film to say the least – it’s a black comedy of sorts, centered on a man going through a mid-life crisis who becomes infatuated with his deerskin jacket.
Georges is a man alone: he flushed his jacket down a toilet, his wife appears to have cut him from her life over the phone, and he has isolated himself in a rural alpine village, but not without purchasing a 7500-euro deerskin jacket along the way (Georges receives a digital camera as an added bonus). His bank account is blocked, but he somehow expects to spend one month at the nearly vacant inn he chooses. As long as Georges has his deerskin jacket, however, which is slowly paired with other deerskin clothing he attains throughout the film, Georges somehow finds a way to keep on going…even if it means eating trash.
Writer-director Quentin Dupieux has his main star, Jean Dujardin (The Artist), play two roles in the film: the eccentric Georges and the deerskin jacket, which is personified by the slight change in pitch of Georges’ voice. Dujardin embraces the weirdness of his character, and his dual personality, as in one of the first scenes where he uses his camera, he introduces himself to the jacket and comes off as fetishizing it.
Dujardin is supported by Adele Haenel, fresh off Portrait of a Lady on Fire fame, who plays Denise, a local bartender and aspiring film editor. The two make for an oddly effective team, especially as Deerskin grows increasingly wild and turns bloody.
“I am alone. You’re alone too.”
“And everyone is alone.”
After having watched Deerskin, it’s not clear to me what director Dupieux was aiming to achieve. At one point in the film, Denise interprets the subject of Georges assortment of clips he gathers her to be his jacket, a symbol of the fact that “we all hide behind a shell to protect us from the outside world,” but it’s more likely Dupieux had no message in mind and instead took a random thought and ran with it. We learn very little about Georges, and he mostly keeps a straight face with the occasional outburst. His character is followed by his own theme, a series of crescendos and sometimes the menacing lower keys on the piano, foreshadowing Georges’ descent into a ceiling-fan blade wielding murderer; he really takes “killer style” to the next level.
The film concludes its brief 77-minute runtime with a sudden bang that is quickly shrugged off, much like the way I’ll probably shrug this film off. Deerskin is sometimes clever, sometimes blunt, but overall lacks substance or reason. It’s middling French absurdism at best. 6.5/10