Have you ever loved a jacket so much you considered a homicidal rampage against other jacket owners, so your prized article of clothing was the only one of its kind on the planet?
No? Didn’t think so. But that won’t stop you from identifying with Georges, the antihero of French director Quentin Dupieux’s latest film.
Dupieux’s, who in another life made electronic music as Mr Oizo, has crafted a name for himself in cinematic circles with his occasionally horrific take on the French farce, and Deerskin (or Le Daim to Francophiles) is no exception.
It opens with Georges (Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin) at a service station, displeased at his reflection in the car window as he fills up the tank.
The problem, as he sees it, is the drab, green corduroy jacket he is wearing, so he pops into the servo restroom and attempts to flush said jacket down the dunny. If you haven’t guessed it by now, Georges is a few croissants short of a pique-nique (we learn later his recent divorce may have something to do with it) and his decision to spend a small fortune on a fringed deerskin jacket in the next scene does little to change that impression.
But, once in possession of the jacket of his dreams, Georges’ life begins to turn around, and, in consultation with the jacket — yes, he talks to the deerskin coat as if it’s a person — he embarks on a new life pretending to be a filmmaker in a sleepy alpine village. This is how he winds up in an unlikely collaboration with wannabe film editor Denise, played by Portrait of a Lady on Fire star Adele Haenel, who is convinced Georges is an avant-garde director, rather than a bloke having a midlife crisis.
Short of money and driven by a compulsion neither he nor the viewer fully comprehends, Georges starts going to rather extreme lengths to create the ultimate filmic homage to his jacket.
Dujardin’s appearance and performance in Deerskin is a far cry from his Academy-Award winning and debonair turn in The Artist, but he’s no less compelling, while Haenel continues to prove why she is one of the most exciting young talents in French cinema today.
However, with Dupieux serving as writer as well as director, this bonkers film is mostly his doing. Questioning the nature of relationships, getting older and what can sometimes be our unhealthy love of inanimate objects, Deerskin is the sort of dark comedy that comes as a welcome distraction in a year like this.
RATING: Three and a half stars
In Cinemas now. MA 15+