Review: Deerskin

Written and directed by Quentin Dupieux, a man’s obsession with his designer deerskin jacket causes him to blow his life savings and turn to crime. Starring: Jean Dujardin, Adèle Haenel, Albert Delpy and Marie Bunel.

Very quickly you’ll realise that things aren’t quite right in this film, there are red flags being thrown constantly and yet it still takes you by surprise. The clever thing about Dupieux’s writing is how the story evolves and your perspective along with it, what you might initially believe is a mid-life crisis, gradually reveals itself to be something much darker. It’s satisfying how it slowly divulges what sort of man Georges (Dujardin) is, leaving you unknowing of how far he will go or how much he’s capable of. Both of those elements play into the pace of the film, it’s constantly pushing forward with more to add and upping the ante, easily holding your attention throughout. However, that doesn’t mean it’s all just smooth sailing, Dupieux also brings through a good dose of awkwardness and discomfort to befit such an odd character as Georges with a classic overconfidence. It also makes some very interesting choices with its ending, some are overt and poetic, others leave it up to your imagination of what could have happened after the credits roll.

With a film such as this that takes a strongly odd, unique tact, you need the performances to back up these characters because if they can’t be convincing then the whole thing falls apart. Luckily for its viewers they cast the two leads extremely well. Jean Dujardin is the kind of actor where he can play a character very seriously, while still retaining the atmosphere that he’s having fun with the role. Which is ultimately perfect for Georges who takes himself intensely seriously and yet is such an outlandish, strange character, that you can’t take him seriously at all, which gives him this silly yet dangerous edge, captured superbly by Dujardin. Pairing him with Adèle Haenel was genius, firstly it skips entirely over any unnecessary attraction, they have a purely platonic connection which is refreshing to see. Haenel captures this curious combination of a naïve outer layer with an intelligent, sharp inner layer, creating a subtly powerful character.

Dupieux’s directorial style embraces that small-town countryside atmosphere, the kind that feels as though it exists in its own little world, separate from the rest. It has an almost subdued edge to its colour palette, which both befits the time its set in and holds it back from trying to take over the film’s dark side, it leans into it but still lets the writing take the lead. What it does embrace more is the film’s wit and pace, the direction and editing push those elements further, which brings out a comedic side. It feels entirely self-aware of the ridiculous nature of its story and presents it in such a way where it’s silly and awkward yet gripping.

Deerskin is beautifully weird, satisfyingly dark and hugely enjoyable. Jean Dujardin hits the tone perfectly as Georges, you don’t like or dislike him, nor root for him to succeed or fail, you simply just can’t stop watching him. Adèle Haenel was the perfect choice of companion, she creates a surprisingly complex character that you’ll still be thinking about after the film ends. The style is understated but embraces the sharpness and ridiculous nature of the story, and the story itself is surprising and refreshingly different. The film will take you down roads you won’t expect and genuinely feels like it’s having as much fun as you will.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯½

In UK cinemas from 16th July 2021

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