STARRING: JEAN DUJARDIN; ADELE HAENEL; ALBERT DELPY
DIRECTED BY: QUENTIN DUPIEUX
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
Deerskin might be a one-joke movie, but damn did I get a kick out of that joke. This is a strange film, a narrative that will not be for everyone, and will be a beautiful discovery for others. It’s about a man named George (Jean Dujardin being his ever charming self), driving away from his past, arriving at a house with the intent to purchase a deerskin jacket for thousands of dollars. This jacket comes with all the fringe tassels around the arms and chest. After purchasing it, he drives to a small Italian town, and holes up in a rundown motel. He’s spent nearly all his money on his beloved deerskin jacket and he’s locked out of his bank accounts. Even weirder? George seems set on being the only person in the world with a jacket, forcing people on the street to remove their jackets, and even argue with them about it. The situation leads to plenty of laughs, both nervous and honest, and a movie that is entirely unpredictable. Deerskin is not just a movie, it’s a fashion statement, and this movie has killer style.
If you are looking for a comparison of what type of movie Deerskin is, my suggestion would be to think the Cohen Brothers mixed with Todd Solondz. Even making that comparison is unfair, because it clearly won’t live up to a movie like Fargo, and it won’t provoke the way a Solondz film ever has. It is from the mind of writer/director Quentin Depieux, whose previous films, such as Reality and his dark comedy Wrong, have stirred the same kind of nervous confusion. It’s like a comedic caviare. If you like the taste it will fill you up, but if you don’t, you will spit it out. For me, I found Deerskin to be funny and perfectly strange. I didn’t know what would happen next and that’s still a rare accomplishment in cinema today.
George settles into his room, looks at himself in the mirror with his cool jacket on, talks to the jacket, takes a phone call from the angry lover he has left behind. George meanders around town, which takes him to a small bar, tended to by the sweet, but shy Denise (Portrait of a Lady on Fire actor Adele Haenel). By the law of characters, they strike up a conversation, and George, holding a small digital camcorder he got with the jacket, says that he’s a filmmaker, shooting on location. Obviously, he is not a filmmaker at all, but Denise knows how to edit films and wants to help. This becomes George’s in for getting money from Denise and in the process he develops an enjoyment for making his movie. Even worse, the movie becomes a collection of scenes where George tricks people into taking off their jackets and running away with them. The audience will grow frustrated, but I found myself having a good time just wondering why this man hates jackets so much? He sure does love his deerskin jacket, that is a fact.
The third act involves George making his movie, molding it into a collection of dumb, reckless decisions, bugging people on the street, and a twist of actions that I did not see happening. For Depieux, his film resides in a different universe than our own. Characters at the hotel are just passing by, but will have some part in it. Cellphone service does not exist, the locals don’t get into people’s business, there seems to be no existence of law enforcement, and George has found his purpose. I would reveal more that happens in the film, but when the plot is this razor thin, it’s impossible not to give it all away.
One thing is for certain, the comedic style of Quentin Depieux and Jean Dujardin are perfect for one another. There’s a combination of charm and stupidity, similar to Dujardin’s OSS 117 character, and that works perfectly. Much of Deerskin even reminded me of Nathan & David Zellner’s Damsel, a movie about a man also oblivious to his romantic aspirations, but only this movie is about a man in love with a jacket. No matter how weird a movie like Deerskin can be, it’s unique, often funny, and it’s also a pretty cool jacket. I wouldn’t ever wear it, but Jean Dujardin pulls it off.
Written by: Leo Brady