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In this dark comedy by French auteur Quentin Dupieux, we follow Jean Dujardin on a mission to rid the world of jackets.
Dujardin plays Georges, a middle-aged man who recently broke up with his wife, although the circumstances of this split remain unknown. We meet him trying to flush his corduroy jacket down a public toilet, which only results in the toilet overflowing. He then goes to visit an old man who sells him a deerskin jacket with tassels all across the chest and back, making him look like the most unlikely of cowboys.
Nevertheless, Georges is quite taken by his new purchase and cannot believe his “killer style.” As he checks himself into a hotel in a small, remote mountain town, he is gradually consumed by the deerskin, acquiring more items of the same material. Georges and the jacket also hatch a plan to be the only jacket and jacket-wearing-man duo on the planet. In order to realize this plan, which eventually turns more ominous than the viewer would anticipate given the comedic tone of the film, Georges enlists the help of a local waitress (Adele Haenel) whom he swindles out of her money by pretending to be a filmmaker.
Deerskin fits right in with the rest of Dupieux’s oeuvre; the director is after all known for surrealist and absurdist plots of this nature. This film is perhaps more understated than, say, Rubber (2009), which followed the journey of a murderous car tire in the American desert, but it’s just as peculiarly humorous and imaginative as we’ve come to expect Dupieux to be.
Jean Dujardin delivers in his leading role, displaying great comedic timing, all the while showing us glimpses of a hidden sadness in his otherwise unscrupulous and driven character.
Deerskin is one of those cinematic gems that are unlikely to be seen outside of cinema enthusiasts, although it cannot but delight any viewer that gives it a chance.
‘Deerskin’ screens at HIFF Love and Anarchy on September 24 and 29.