It takes a great deal of restraint to make a film of such beautiful weirdness as Deerskin, from director Quentin Dupieux. Instead of allowing his story to stumble into surrealism, Dupieux simply dishes up purposeful absurdity, combining contrasting elements to form something distinctive, daring and extremely funny.
Georges (Jean Dujardin), arrives in a cloud-covered rural French town. Although the details are never fully disclosed (nor do they need to be), it appears that his marriage has recently ended, and he simply got into his car and drove. He parts with a vast sum of money to buy a vintage (deerskin) leather jacket, and creates a committed though unconvincing backstory for himself: that he’s a filmmaker working on a project. His lie almost clandestinely becomes his goal, which is handy, because it works in conjunction with his jacket’s goal: to be the only jacket in the world.
Deerskin could be interpreted as the story of a man whose mental health is in free fall, or an earnest story of an especially communicative piece of clothing. Dupieux doesn’t encourage his audience to make sense of it, and to do so would almost defeat the purpose of watching a film such as this. The jacket itself is a kitschy monstrosity, so hideous that it’s beautiful, and wouldn’t look out of place being worn ironically on the runway of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
With a face that can rapidly pivot from statuesque handsomeness to being wonderfully cartoonish to being unsettlingly sinister, Dujardin is a treat as Georges. And things do become intently sinister as Georges’ jacket’s quest to become the only jacket in the world takes on a more proactive approach. Dupieux was also responsible for the script, and it would have been incredibly simple for him to write himself into a corner. Instead, the film maintains its delicate balance through to the end, with a conclusion just as menacing as it is bizarre.
Deerskin is released in select cinemas on 16th July 2021.
Watch the trailer for Deerskin here: