Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Jean Dujardin stars, with his suede jacket, in Deerskin, opening title of Cannes Directors’ Fortnight
"The director proves a master of the tragicomic as he observes one man's slip from midlife crisis to madness by way of obsession." | Photo: Quinzaine des Réalisateurs

There's a playful confidence to Quentin Dupieux's Deerskin, which is perhaps no surprise given that the French writer/director and sometime electro musician has previously got decent mileage from a killer tyre (Rubber) and would continue in similar vein with outsize bug flick Mandibles. The director proves a master of the tragicomic as he observes one man's slip from midlife crisis to madness by way of obsession.

In this case, the object that holds the narrative focus is what Georges (Jean Dujardin) considers to be a jacket with "killer style" - a phrase that will, like so many pieces of cursed clothing from Hans Christian Andersen's red shoes to the red dress in Peter Strickland's In Fabric, take on the full double meaning during the course of this film. The jacket is a distinctive, if outdated, fringed, suede affair, made from Bambi's relative, of course, that could have moseyed on in from a western and for which we see Georges paying an exorbitant price near the start of the film. In fact, the price is so high that the seller throws in a digital camera for good measure.

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The reason for Georges sudden desire to switch up his image becomes clear via a brief phone conversation with his soon-to-be ex-wife - "You're nowhere, Georges," she tells him leading him to immediately bin his phone.  He's already attempted to flush away his old jacket - done in an absurdly inept fashion that will come to characterise many of his actions in the film - and the act of sloughing off his old identity in favour of something new continues as he sacrifices his wedding ring as collateral for a room for the night. Soon, Georges is trying out 'voices' for his new jacket, while hatching a plot to make it the last coat standing.

Part of Georges' plan hinges on pretending to be a filmmaker and, in a key example of the tragicomic vibe Dupieux maintains his beloved jacket leaves him briefly accused of making porn. In a handy development, the local barmaid Denise (Adèle Haenel) is also a wannabe film editor and she's soon enabling Georges with both encouragement and cash. Initially, Georges is happy to just encourage folks to ditch their jackets but as Denise tells him to spice up the film's action things take a sinister turn.

Dupieux doesn't concern himself with everyday niceties, such as why nobody seems bothered that the bodies are piling up, and is instead more interested in the psychological drivers of Georges' obsession and the ambiguity surrounding Denise's part in all this. The ending arrives like a bullet from the blue - at once both highly amusing and entirely appropriate.

Reviewed on: 19 Jul 2021
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Deerskin packshot
Georges, 44, and his jacket, 100 per cent deerskin, have a plan.
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Director: Quentin Dupieux

Writer: Quentin Dupieux

Starring: Jean Dujardin, Adèle Haenel, Albert Delpy, Pierre Gommé, Laurent Nicolas, Coralie Russier, Stéphane Jobert, Franck Lebreton, Marie Bunel, Panayotis Pascot, Youssef Hajdi, Simon Thomas, Tom Hudson, Maryne Cayon, Thomas Blanchard

Year: 2019

Runtime: 77 minutes

Country: France

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