DEERSKIN

★★★★

HILARIOUS AND HORRIFIC

THEATRICAL REVIEW
By Jake Watt
2nd August 2020

When he first started making movies in 2002, Quentin Dupieux was already known for producing French house music under the name Mr Oizo, but his subsequent filmography proved to be more than a dalliance. Dupieux writes, shoots, edits, and scores his own movies. There is a clear intent present in his work, even if his films suggest that he isn't motivated by anything more than a compulsion to make something weird and undefinable.

I can't claim to have watched his entire filmography but I did really like 'Rubber', a story about a sentient killer tire with telepathic powers rolling around the desert, exploding the craniums of people who stumbled into it's path. The idea of a random object becoming malevolent was darkly hilarious, and the actual movie ends up being meta in a way that actually worked, too. 'Wrong' might be the best of Dupieux's work - the surreal, absurdist humour is very charming.

WATCH: 'DEERSKIN'

In his latest, 'Deerskin', a man named Georges (Academy Award-winner Jean Dujardin, 'The Artist', who is brilliant) wastes all of his money on a deerskin jacket in a small French town. There he takes on the guise of a film executive scouting the area for a new movie (his crew are in Siberia, you see). He meets and befriends a bartender (Adèle Haenel, 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire') who dreams of becoming a professional film editor. I won't explain the plot beyond that, but if you're familiar with Dupieux's oeuvre, you know it goes bonkers.

Okay, maybe I'll explain a little bit more of it: Georges' jacket communicates with him via a voiceover, giving him understandably jacket-centric advice. People take dumb advice from a lot of different sources, but the commands issued by Georges jacket are particularly socially unacceptable. Georges' jacket is a jealous jacket. A combination of Old Testament God and dodgy high-end outerwear, the jacket demands that its owner destroy all other jackets. Murder via a weaponised ceiling fan blade ensues.

Georges gets advice from his jacket, which communicates to him through an infrequent disembodied voiceover. This advice is particularly jacket-centric.

A sprightly 77 minutes, 'Deerskin' wastes no time moving the uncomplicated insanity chugging along. Dujardin plays Georges as a quiet loner, while Haenel's bored bartender is pleased to just be a part of something, jumping at the opportunity to assist George's bizarre compulsion. Dujardin plays his role straight - there's no smirking - and Dupieux's direction similarly takes the narrative as read.

The tone continually mutates until a finale arrives that lurches into full-blown absurdism. Like all of Dupieux's work, 'Deerskin' feels like a clever music video stretched to feature length (but not so long that it overstays its welcome), and is frequently hilarious.

If you only have time to watch one bizarre French horror-comedy about a guy and the jacket that seems to hold an extreme power over his mind, 'Deerskin' is it.

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