“Deerskin,” written and directed by Quentin Dupieux, is a crazy entertaining WTF lark. It’s like a cross between “Barton Fink” and “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” — the research of a desolate loner sunk into obsession, and the extra we research him the extra on the market his obsession turns into. But the weirdest component of the film is, paradoxically, probably the most regular: The central character (for lengthy stretches, he’s the one character) is performed by Jean Dujardin, the blazingly charismatic star of “The Artist,” the “OSS: 117” movies, and (in smaller roles) “The Wolf of Wall Road” and “Monuments Males.” Dujardin is the form of main man who likes to combine it up, and in “Deerskin” he provides an adventurous downbeat efficiency that tosses vainness — and sanity — proper out the window.
The film opens with a sequence of younger folks putting their jackets in a automobile trunk, repeating the road “I swear by no means to put on a jacket so long as I dwell.” We predict we’re watching some eccentric environmental vow. However no. Moments later, we meet Georges (Dujardin), a good-looking, barely chunky-looking middle-aged man with a graying beard, hair swept again, and a common air of fretful distraction. At a roadside restroom, he takes off his corduroy jacket and tries to flush it down the bathroom, which (shock) doesn’t work. He then drives into the countryside and arrives at a mansion, the place the hippie geezer inside sells him a classic deerskin jacket for 8,000 Euro. Georges is just a few hundred Euro brief, however the geezer doesn’t thoughts. He accepts the money and tosses into the discount an outdated digital video digicam, which now appears as archaic as a Victrola.
The jacket is the fetish object round which the film is constructed, and it’s a kind of suede numbers from the ’60s, with lengthy fringes hanging down from the arms, chest, and again. Ten years in the past, cued to the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, I acquired a promotional copy of a box-set DVD re-release of Michael Wadleigh’s documentary that got here in a miniature mockup of a kind of jackets; that’s how iconic it’s. The jacket in “Deerskin” seems to be just like the form of the factor David Crosby would have worn for 3 months with out taking off. Placing it on in a state of ecstasy, Georges gazes at his picture within the mirror and says, “Stoking! Killer model.”
The truth that he thinks so is the primary signal that he’s received a screw unfastened. For he seems to be ridiculous. The jacket is simply too small for his cumbersome body, and it doesn’t mesh in any respect along with his wardrobe, which consists of a impartial workplace shirt and what seems to be just like the French model of chinos. As enticing as Dujardin is, in that jacket Georges seems to be like a company nerd gone slumming, and what’s even stranger is that he doesn’t evince any explicit nostalgia for the 1960s. The truth that the jacket is fabricated from deerskin is what issues to him. He doesn’t need to be David Crosby. It’s extra like he needs to be Daniel Boone.
Georges, we be taught, has simply break up up along with his spouse. So it looks as if he’s taking part in out some existential midlife disaster of cracked masculinity. At an remoted nation inn, he tells the desk clerk that his bank card isn’t working and provides him his marriage ceremony ring as collateral; then he learns that he’s been blocked from his checking account, which throws him into the primary of many rages. Then he begins speaking to his new jacket. Actually carrying on a dialog with it. (He does each voices.) It’s at this level that it begins to daybreak on you that “Deerskin” isn’t a portrait of warped male identification — it’s the story of a madman. And the film, in its deadpan approach, is as nutty as he’s.
“Deerskin” is a warped fable of no nice consequence, although the truth that it holds you, for 77 minutes, is a testomony to the debauched rigor of Dupieux’s filmmaking. He shot and edited the movie, and he works in a meticulous, life like, blow-by-blow model, main the viewers, proper together with Georges, right into a vortex of weirdly logical irrationality (i.e., the thoughts of a psychopath). George begins to movie himself, and his beloved jacket, with the camcorder, and when the bartender on the largely deserted native bar asks him what he does, he tells her he’s a filmmaker. And he turns into one. Type of.
The bartender’s identify is Denise, and he or she’s performed by Adèle Haenel, the fascinating star of the Dardenne brothers’ “The Unknown Lady,” who right here creates a portrait of a cool moony younger lady whose trusting nature is predicated on her having spent an excessive amount of time within the provinces. She needs to be a movie editor, and has practiced the artwork by re-editing actual movies, like “Pulp Fiction,” which she put in chronological order (“It sucked!”). Georges, telling her that he’s received a crew stranded in Siberia, arms her all his footage, which is sufficient to persuade her that the venture is actual. She cleans out her account to bankroll the movie, but there’s no system to Georges’ con. Piece by piece, he acquires extra deerskin clothes — a hat, fringed pants (a present from Denise), even gloves — after which, when he’s prepared, or perhaps simply when he’s hit all-time low, he pulls a fan down from the ceiling, removes one blade, and finds, eventually, his true calling.
Dujardin invests all this with a conviction so unhinged it’s humorous. But “Deerskin” might be destined to play higher at a movie pageant than it’s going to in the true world. Dupieux, who as soon as made a film a couple of homicidal tire (“Rubber”), is a dark-spirited huckster fantasist who sees filmmaking as a grand sport of toying with our expectations. You may’t take his films significantly — or, relatively, you’ll be able to, however I wouldn’t suggest it. He has an arrested sensibility. But he additionally has expertise. If he ever decides to make a film about one thing greater than pranking the viewers, it might land with an explosion.