September 25, 2020  (Web Review)

Deerskin

Kino Lorber, 77 mins, French with English subtitles.

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

A brief running time is just right for this absurdist dark comedy from filmmaker Quentin Dupieux. “Deerskin” should be on fan radar as an incipient cult item, but we hate to even say that for fear of a superfluous English-language Hollywood remake. Leaving a broken marriage behind, enigmatic protagonist Georges (Jean Dujardin) stuffs his corduroy jacket in a public toilet—we learn little of Georges’ background, but he does not seem very stable, as a rule—and purchases a genuine Davey Crockett-style fringed-deerskin jacket from an old man, who also throws a somewhat antiquated but functioning mini-DV camera in, for free.

Georges grows obsessed with his western-wear, talking lovingly to the jacket (who begins talking back) and filming it. More or less homeless, with his off-screen spouse suspending his credit cards and bank account, George scams his way into an indefinite stay at a hotel in the hinterlands and passes himself off as a big-time filmmaker (whose producers and crew just happen to be away in Siberia, that’s all). Surprisingly, a local girl (Adele Haenel) has training as a professional editor and begins collaborating with Georges on his “project,” which is actually a bid to push the mania over his deerskin jacket to even more bizarre and megalomaniacal extremes. Finale gives new meaning to the antiquated phrase “hell-bent for leather”; just know that gore f/x are creative enough to send fans jaws dropping but not overdone, and viewers concerned about animal rights should have nothing to worry over, despite much ado over hides (it would be interesting to get Brigitte Bardot’s take on what this was all about). Recommended for broadminded foreign collections.