Deerskin is a 2019 French dark comedy horror feature film about a man that becomes obsessed by a vintage fringed jacket. Unfortunately, the jacket begins to exert an uncanny hold over him. Lodging in an unfamiliar small town in the hinterlands, Georges puts his plan into operation…
Written and directed by Quentin Dupieux (Mandibles; Reality; Rubber), the movie stars Jean Dujardin, Adèle Haenel, Albert Delpy and Coralie Russier.
With a curt running time that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome, French filmmaker Quentin Dupieux’s deadpan, absurdist dark comedy has cult potential, despite (or because of) what threatens to be a one-joke premise. It’s a movie, in fact, about monomania (through promoted as an attack on middle-aged machismo gone psycho, in a your-guess-is-as-good-as-mine thing).
Leaving a shattered marriage behind, enigmatic protagonist Georges (Jean Dujardin) stuffs his corduroy jacket in a public toilet and purchases a genuine Davey Crockett-style fringed-deerskin jacket he’s somehow found in an ad placed by a funny old man (similar to the plot device that put Stephen King’s used-car horror story Christine into gear). Besides handing over the coat (which he calls “the beast”) the old fellow also throws a somewhat antiquated but functioning mini-DV camera in, for free.
(As a hopeless secondhand gadget buyer myself I had to ask myself, is that a Canon Elura? Though it’s probably a Sony of similar design. Good luck finding either of those in working order nowadays). Immediately smitten with his western-wear, Georges grows obsessed with the jacket, talking lovingly to the jacket and filming it with the camera.
The protagonist is essentially homeless, his hostile offscreen spouse suspending his credit cards and bank account. George scams his way into an indefinite stay at a hotel far from the city, and he passes himself off as a big-time filmmaker, working separately from his cast and crew.
Rather remarkably, a local girl (Adele Haenel) has training as a professional digital editor (the gear she uses, that’s Sony, definitely) and joins Georges in the fantasy. She starts collaborating with Georges on his “project,” which is actually a bid to in pushing the mania over his deerskin jacket to even more bizarre extremes. Because not only does Georges talk to the jacket – he’s starting to hear the jacket talking back.
Ultimately, the material escalates into a gorefest that’s not as extreme as less disciplined genre relations but still offers a suit-bagful of creative carnage. And, if there’s only one way this escalating-stakes story can end, it does so in a satisfactory fashion.
You will not likely look at a fringed jacket quite the same way again. For a French movie about leather that ends with a grotesque body count, you need not fear that there will be hideous animal cruelty, as in Les Sang des Betes or Un Chien Andalou. Interesting comparisons, though.
Charles Cassady Jr., MOVIES and MANIA
“Deerskin doesn’t have any staying power, because it’s not supposed to: Dupieux’s movie inevitably falls apart because nihilism is cool, man, and that’s also a big part of his style. Georges’ whimsical mania doesn’t mean anything, and that meaninglessness doesn’t matter to Dupieux…” RogerEbert.com
“While it’s hard to recommend Deerskin whole-heartedly – the time it takes to build momentum over a mere 77 minutes is nigh-on unforgivable – there’s always room for such renegade eccentricity. Like his main character, Dupieux comes across as a little blinded by his own self-regard…” The Wee Review
Released in the USA on DVD and On-Demand by Greenwich Entertainment.
Cast and characters:
Jean Dujardin … Georges
Adèle Haenel … Denise
Albert Delpy … Monsieur B.
Coralie Russier … La voisine hôtel
Laurent Nicolas … Le réceptionniste
Marie Bunel … La salope du bar
Pierre Gommé … L’enfant
Caroline Piette … La banquière
Stéphane Jobert … Le tôlier
Géraldine Schitter … La vendeuse de chaussures
Panayotis Pascot … Johnny
Youssef Hajdi … Olaf
Simon Thomas … Xavier
Tom Hudson … Yann
Maryne Cayon … Zita
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1
MOVIES and MANIA rating: