Deerskin, the French love story of the year, is the first of Quentin Dupieux’s films to be theatrically released in the UK when it is released this Friday. I’ve seen and adored a quirky love story about a woman and a dress, with Peter Strickland‘s In Fabric (and in Jumbo Noémie Merlant falls in love with a fairground ride), but never one about a man falling in love with a jacket, so I was excited for the opportunity to watch this. I don’t want to give too much away, as this is a film that as little should be known as possible about before going in…
This is a tale of a mans obsession. Not an obsession with another human though. But with a deerskin jacket. And lucky for us, a free camcorder thrown in with that deerskin jacket for good measure so we can have our film within a film which we all love to see. I do respect a premise like this, with all its quirks.
We meet Georges (Jean Dujardin) who clearly has a penchant for jackets, or perhaps more fittingly, one particular jacket. A horrendous deerskin jacket which is far too small for him and looks ridiculous. The amusing premise is played extraordinarily straight by Dujardin, as Georges aimlessly strolls around the glorious French wilderness wearing his beloved jacket. It feels as though we are aimlessly strolling along with him, with no clue where this is all going to go. I enjoyed that dreamlike state and whilst it is the epitome of a slow burn, I never felt bored.
Deerskin comes in at a tiny 77 minutes and it’s difficult to know where this is going to go in such a short amount of time. It is however a perfect length for a narrative such as this, Dupieux timing it to perfection. I think any longer and some of the audience would be putting on their jackets and leaving.
While this is a quiet film with minimal characters, there is the local bartender, Denise, played by Adèle Haenel. She is incredible with natural timing and a great adversary to Georges. She presents her love for editing with a timely nod to Pulp Fiction, which is perhaps a hint of what we should expect as the narrative moves along. Indeed, there are some very dark scenes and it fits a lot in for the run time. There is a skilful use of musical beats throughout to denote tension, and the third act is marvellous that draws it to a head in the most delightful way.
It’s also a narrative that talks to itself throughout the film, even asking the question, “What do you think it’s about?” in the dialogue itself. I’m not quite sure what it does mean, but this is part of what makes it an entertaining ride. Perhaps it’s a tale of a man going through a mid-life crisis or a divorce, perhaps it’s just a dark comedy with no meaning whatsoever, but one wonders where Dupieux thought of this idea.
Deerskin was very funny, albeit dark, creative, and I found it refreshingly new. It’s a strangely appealing story that keeps you wondering why you like it so much. Very slow paced, but it builds well and is a thoroughly enjoyable, multilayered black comedy. However, our protagonist, Georges, is in himself something of an unlikeable character.
Deerskin certainly won’t be for everyone, but it’s also not trying to be. No-one makes films quite like Quentin Dupieux and if you like his films, this will be exactly your cup of tea.