If you recognize the name Quentin Dupieux, then you know this director doesn’t make run-of-the-mill movies for the masses. The French DJ/filmmaker bounced into the collective cinematic consciousness with Rubber in 2010, a film about a rolling tire with the will to kill. In his followup, Wrong, Dupieux explored the notion of twisted telepathy between humans and animals.
Now, with Deerskin, Dupieux presents the saga of two narcissists: one is a recently-divorced, down-on-his-luck middle-aged man, Georges (Jean Dujardin, The Artist), and the other is a seemingly sentient fringed buckskin coat. When the fancy hide insists on being the only jacket in the world, Georges makes it so… one jacket at a time. And if the owners of those coats don’t want to give up their threads, then Georges asserts his suede master’s command through any means necessary.
When we first meet Georges, he’s drifting through a mountainous town in a secluded area of France without purpose. His wife has recently left him, he’s quit his job, and he’s rudderless until he finds the perfect coat for sale. A one-of-a-kind vintage coat being sold by its longtime owner. It doesn’t really fit him but it’s such a great deal—there’s even an old camcorder thrown in—that he can’t resist. Georges pays up with his last nine grand, then rents a derelict but scenic hotel room using his no longer needed gold wedding band as collateral. Hanging out at the local tavern that night, he strikes up a conversation with the attractive young bartender, Denise (Adèle Haenel, Portrait of a Lady on Fire), who claims to be an aspiring film editor when she sees his camera. The two set out to make a movie, but neither one can guess what a dark path they are destined to follow.
Georges is not the most likable character—he lies, cheats, steals, and yes, kills—but Academy Award winner Dujardin does a beautiful job of drawing us into a depraved and sad inner world while making us chuckle at the same time. Pulling off effective dark comedy is no easy feat, but Dujardin makes it seem effortless. Haenel has the more thankless “straight man” role, but she too is fun to watch as her character starts to realize that the new mystery man in town isn’t quite what he made himself out to be.
Horror fans will enjoy the making of this murderer as he goes from lost soul to a man on a mission in his single-minded purpose. He’s no mastermind, though; he fashions a rather unique weapon from an item his own hotel room then leaves a trail of coatless corpses all over town without a backward glance, plus he leaves an angry witness in the wind. All of which, of course, lead to Georges’ inevitable undoing.
While this flick is loaded with atmosphere, there’s not much in the way of story or suspense. This would have made an awesome 35-minute short film or an eccentric anthology episode, but as a feature following an opportunistic loser, Deerskin wears thin.
Deerskin opens nationwide on May 1st as part of Greenwich Entertainment’s virtual cinema partnership with theaters throughout the country. 50% of proceeds will go to local theaters to support them during this unprecedented time.