Quentin Dupieux’s latest delivers the expected outlandishness but won’t live long in viewers’ memories.
The life of a sociopath is laid bare in Quentin Dupieux’s macabre satire Deerskin, in which Academy Award Winner Jean Dujardin plays Georges, a man who spends his life savings on a second-hand deerskin jacket, only to then become unnervingly obsessed with it. Armed with such a bonkers premise, its director and star both commit to rendering Georges thoroughly devoid of any etiquette or feeling, absorbed only in his own status and the impression he makes on others. Dujardin is clearly having fun in a role that encourages his gift for comedy, while Dupieux gives the audience plenty of room for thought. Is Georges’ behavior a result of a mid-life crisis, the recent breakdown of his marriage, or simply a lifelong instinct for self-involvement?
Dupieux poses interesting questions, but is considerably less generous with Georges’ companion of sorts, Denise (Adele Haenel), as the film fails to convey just why she is so invested in him. Her perceived gullibility is explained away rather flippantly, and her actions throughout feel more like a plot convenience than any natural extension of her character. The duo’s propulsion into the world of filmmaking represents a rather tongue-in-cheek nod to the perceived narcissism inherent in the profession; and while there are a couple of amusing movie-related jokes, the humor largely remains deliciously morbid, ratcheting up the Georges’ lack of control to amplify the suggested danger in his actions. But there is always a clear narrative trajectory, and, unfortunately, Dupieux does not seem to be able to surprise beyond the outlandishness of his comedy, the eventual descent into psychological horror territory ultimately feeling schematic. Deerskin is still wicked fun and earns some goodwill for its sheer originality, but its successes remain decidedly minor and ultimately won’t live in the memory for long.
Published as part of May 2020’s Before We Vanish.