Film review: Deerskin

Billed as a comedy-horror, French film Deerskin is a wild and whacky exploration of possession and obsession.

Aug 13, 2020, updated Aug 13, 2020

Deerskin (Le Daim) is the story of Georges who ­– while on the road, seemingly to get as far away as he can from his partner – answers an ad to purchase a very expensive deerskin jacket, complete with fringing.

The jacket has some power over Georges (played effectively by Jean Dujardin, perhaps best known for his performance in The Artist). It informs him that it wants to be the only jacket in the world, thus beginning his quest to liberate individuals of their jackets.

When Georges meets barmaid Denise (Adele Haenel, Portrait of a Lady on Fire), she shows surprising interest in his mission. He tries to pass himself off as a filmmaker and Denise offers to be his producer and editor; their rapport and developing relationship is an interesting development in this quirky, offbeat piece of cinema.

Gradually, Georges adds to his deerskin clothing with pants, hat and gloves, looking very much a dangerous, Wild West gunslinger, though somewhat out of place in France. The film becomes darker and bloodier, some may say funnier, as Georges becomes more and more possessed and obsessed with the jacket’s desires.

As Georges is making his own film, the look of Deerskin is occasionally grainy or washed-out but it doesn’t create a special or lasting effect.  There is an occasional similarity with Deliverance in the sense of isolation and a mysterious boy who does not speak, but studies him from a distance.

Director Quentin Dupieux has said he wanted to “film insanity head on”, which offers some insight into the ideas driving Deerskin. Perhaps his film is also an attempt to satirise excessive violence in films or explore the nature of violence within men, but it does not have the usual subtlety and nuance of French humour.

Once the premise is established, the plot development is inevitable and, although there may be some twists, I was glad it was not a long film.

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Is Georges twisted? Is he following instructions? Why does Denise join him on his mission when his actions are so obviously wrong and futile? Deerskin comes to an abrupt ending and we are left wondering: What was the point of this brief adventure?

It’s a film that may well become a cult classic, but it certainly won’t appeal to everyone

Deerskin is showing now at Wallis Mitcham Cinemas and Palace Nova Eastend.

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