Life & Culture

Film review: Deerskin

A man's obsession with a jacket makes this an enjoyable if surreal black comedy


Jean Dujardin (The Artist, The Monuments Men) gives an inspired turn as a man who becomes obsessed with a vintage suede jacket in French writer/director Quentin Dupieuxs brilliantly deadpan dark comedy Deerskin.

Dupieux who had huge international success in his earlier incarnation as DJ/ Producer Mr Oizo, famed for his 1999 hit Flat Beat, is no stranger to the weird and wonderful world of fetishistic representation on screen. His 2010 film Rubber told the story of a car tire that comes to life and kills people with its psychic powers.

Arriving at a remote village, George (Dujardin) pays a small fortune in exchange for what looks like an innocuous second-hand suede jacket. Soon George and the jacket form an unbreakable bond as he becomes completely entranced by the garment, leading him to increasingly erratic behaviour.

Now penniless, George finds an unlikely ally in barmaid and aspiring film editor Denise (Portrait of a Lady on Fire star Adèle Haenel in a rare comedic role) whom he manages to convince that he is a big-shot film director. Desperate for a break, Denise agrees to help him edit his film, but instead of paying her, he demands that she finances the project  for him.

Dupieux presents a hilarious dark comedy which refuses to pull any punches in its depiction of toxic masculinity. At times there is almost a faint suspicion that the joke is, in fact, on us the audience for humouring such a preposterous premise. 

Thematically, there are shades of Peter Strickland in the way Dupieux fetishises objects and articles of clothing to make a broader commentary about gender issues. While visually, there is a lo-fi quality about the film which gives it an air of mystery and intrigue throughout.

Dujardin shines in a role which is a far cry from his big Hollywood debut in The Artist. He depicts George as a man with very few scruples or, indeed morals. He is possessed by his love for one thing and one thing only, a desire to feed his own obsession.

At 1h 17min, Deerskin is careful not to overstay its welcome, and interestingly enough, this is what makes it hugely watchable. Dupieux has given us a sharp, complex absurdist comedy which is worth a;; the hype surrounding it.

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