At a punchy seventy-seven minutes, writer-director Quentin Dupieux’s Deerskin is a manic absurdist delight. A film of insane genius, Deerskin sees Jean Dujardin at his most excitingly unpredictable in a tale that makes a debauched satirical riff on the mid-life crisis and male sociopathy.
Georges (Dujardin) a hapless divorcee grows tired of his jacket, replacing it for a tasseled seventies-style deerskin jacket. With his purchase he is given a free video camera from its elderly former owner (Albert Delpy). Posing as a filmmaker he takes up residence at a rural hotel where he lulls Denise (Adèle Haenel), a young barmaid and aspiring editor, into working on his film. Yet the film simply serves as a rouse for Georges to achieve his goal of having his deerskin number becoming the only jacket in the world. Achieving this goal soon sees Georges embark on a murderous spree.
Dupieux finds a staggering amount of mileage and humour in the concept of a hapless divorcee and his new jacket, holding us for the full run time with its berserk absurdist grip. Initially depicting a man’s mid-life crisis being fulfilled by a overpriced jacket, the film soon transgresses into a manic comic horror playing with the idea of the male sociopath. Dujardin provides the voice for the jacket, which guides the easy-influenced Georges into his chaotic spree of madness and destruction – or to the kindly Denise, simply his ‘film shoots’.
Dujardin plays the role straight which adds to the madcap comic appeal of the production as Georges recruits actors for his film initially by auditioning them and stealing their jackets, then by more murderous methods. Pairing the film’s low-key aesthetic style with a blend of late nineties inspired digital video camcorder footage only furthers the manic visual clout of Deerskin. The rural French setting adds heaps of character to the film – with the small town continental setting, grassy expanses, and decaying chateaux hotels and bars creating an oddball blend, perfectly befitting with the character of the film.
Haenel adds a human angle to proceedings, balancing out the sociopathic Georges, as the more self-aware than we initially think Denise. Becoming an unknowing accomplice to Georges’ filmmaking crimes and his quest to remove the world’s jackets, Denise is grounded and likeable bringing a welcome humanity to the outlandish proceedings.
Brutally comic and invigoratingly original, Deerskin is an absorbing and magnificently unpredictable ride showcasing the madcap genius of Dupieux and a gripping, unhinged and note perfect turn from Dujardin.