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Fantastic Fest 2019 Review: 'Deerskin'

Chris is a Houston Film Critics Society Member and a contributor at Bounding Into Comics, God Hates Geeks, and Slickster Magazine.

The English language theatrical poster for, "Deerskin."

The English language theatrical poster for, "Deerskin."

Killer Style for a Killing Spree

French filmmaker Quentin Dupieux (Rubber, Wrong) has always seemed to make films with incredibly insane humor revolving around massively absurd concepts. Deerskin may be his most grounded and accessible film to date, but it’s still pretty out there. Georges (Jean Dujardin, The Artist) is going through a messy separation with his wife. He spends thousands of dollars traveling to the country to retrieve a fringed deerskin jacket. A digital recorder is thrown in as an added bonus and suddenly Georges begins compulsively lying about being a filmmaker.

Fueling his newfound obsession with deerskin, Georges demands that no jackets are allowed to be worn by anyone else from now on. He lies to a local bartender named Denise (Adèle Haenel, BPM (Beats Per Minute)) who edits film as a hobby. Now, in order to get decent shots for a film Georges has no idea what direction it will go in, turns to extreme crime to get the shots he needs.

Jean Dujardin as Georges in, "Deerskin."

Jean Dujardin as Georges in, "Deerskin."

There’s a darkness and a ridiculousness to Deerskin that can’t be found anywhere other than in a Quentin Dupieux film. Jean Dujardin has this charisma in his performances that is undeniably mesmerizing. As Georges, he seems desperate to find something that isn’t slipping away from him. His marriage is in shambles, he’s somewhere where he’s never been before where he doesn’t know anyone, and he has no finances at his disposal. He creates this reputation about himself that also reels in those who have always desired something more.

Dujardin has full blown conversations with his jacket; speaking out loud and doing voices for both sides of the conversation. He’s basically lost his mind and that concept is only cemented once he starts killing people. Dujardin has this seemingly genuine reaction to deerskin material that lies somewhere between being totally awestruck and being similar to discovering gold in a dumpster. His obsession with killer style is humorous not only because of his reaction but also because he is always admiring himself in mirrors and his reflection in car windows.

One of the best aspects of a Quentin Dupieux film is that since it’s always so different and bizarre, you can’t typically predict where his films are going to go. Without giving too much away, Georges basically becomes a serial killer with the blade of a ceiling fan he sharpens by hanging out his driver side door while driving and dragging said blade on the asphalt as he drives. He does all this in the name of film and in the name of no other jacket being as worthy as this beige, fringey mess that he has a fetish for. There’s a serious passion for film and always going all out for what you love despite what others may think.

Deerskin won’t be for everyone, but if you enjoy weird and unusual films that don't resemble the mainstream in the slightest or have a fascination with Quentin Dupieux projects in general (which everyone should) then Deerskin is absolutely highly recommended. Its violence and bleak nature are concealed through layers of fringe and killer style. Despite Georges killing innocent people at night, during the day he has this awkward charm that is easy to get sucked into. Gloriously ludicrous with a remarkably captivating performance from Jean Dujardin and a gonzo concept that continuously snowballs further and further into uproarious madness throughout an entirely too short 77-minute duration, Deerskin is a delightfully eccentric comedy intertwined with a grisly and outlandish inner seam.

Jean Dujardin and Adèle Haenel in, "Deerskin."

Jean Dujardin and Adèle Haenel in, "Deerskin."

© 2019 Chris Sawin