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Deerskin (A Movie Review)

Updated: Sep 27, 2023



Starring Jean Dujardin, Adele Haenel, Albert Delpy, Pierre Gomme, Laurent Nicolas, Coralie Russier, Marie Bunel, Caroline Piette, Stéphane Jobert, Géraldine Schitter, Panayotis Pascot, Youssef Hajdi, Simon Thomas, Tom Hudson, Maryne Cayon, Thomas Blanchard, Rio Vega, Maxim Driesen, Jérôme Menard, David Sztanke and Julia Faure.

Screenplay by Quentin Dupieux.

Directed by Quentin Dupieux.

Distributed by Greenwich Entertainment. 77 minutes. Not Rated.

Screened at the 2019 Philadelphia Film Festival.

What to say about Deerskin? It is a very strange movie, but it is also a very funny movie.

Is that enough? Probably. While occasionally it feels like a comedy skit that goes on a bit too long, I must admit that it kept me guessing until the extremely sudden – but somehow perfect – denouement.

And no matter how totally off the wall it got – and it got really, really off the wall – I laughed.

The story, such as it is, is basically pretty simple. Georges (played by Jean Dujardin of The Artist) is a broke, middle-aged man, a mooch who has been thrown out by his ex. On his journey of self-discovery, he goes to a small town in the middle of France to spend all of the money that he has on a deerskin jacket he found online.

He is immediately taken by himself in the jacket. (“Killer style,” he tells himself several times.) He finds it hard to take it off. He becomes obsessive about the care of the jacket. He starts filming it with a video camera which was thrown into the purchase by the man who sold him the coat (a cameo by Albert Delpy). Eventually Georges starts to talk to the jacket.

Then the jacket starts to talk back.

The jacket muses it would like to be the only jacket in the world. Georges agrees that he would like to have the only jacket in the world. Therefore, he sets about ridding his village of its jackets. First, he does it by tricking people. When this proves too slow a method, he decides to use some more violent means of getting them.

Is Georges crazy? Is he really talking with a supernatural jacket?

It doesn’t really matter, honestly.

Though it seems he is indeed crazy – and you see his mouth moving in time to what the jacket is saying, much like Mel Gibson’s hand puppet in the beaver – this is not a film about mental illness. It’s not trying to make some kind of important point. It’s just an oddball black comedy.

While staying in a small town, Georges uses the façade of being a filmmaker making his masterwork. Of course, no one really seems to question the fact that he has no cast or crew, just himself, a deerskin jacket and a very lo-end personal video camera. They also don’t seem to be thrown by the fact that the producers of his magnum opus seem to be incommunicado in Siberia, therefore he must hit up a cute local barkeeper who dreams of being a film editor for money. (Her line about reediting Pulp Fiction into chronological order may be the funniest of some very funny jokes in this film.)

That barkeeper, Denise (played by Adele Haenel, in a very different role than her other Philadelphia Film Festival entry this year – A Portrait of a Lady on Fire) is at first confused by the nonsensical clips, but quickly becomes sure that she is part of some surreal masterpiece. Even when people start to die on camera – and she is not sure if they are actors or not – she throws herself into the project like a zealot.

As I said before, it’s weird, but damn me if it isn’t funny.

Even at a very short 77 minutes, it probably runs longer than need be (this would have been a killer short), but it has a nearly perfect ending, so I’ll forgive that.

Deerskin is not like anything you’ve seen before, and that’s a good thing.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2019 All rights reserved. Posted: October 25, 2019.

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