Deerskin | Review
Full Leather Jacket: Dupieux’s Cinema Bizarre Continues with Killer Style
Quentin Dupieux, France’s purveyor or loopy absurdism, returns with Deerskin, headlined by high-profilers Jean Dujardin and Adele Haenel as a couple of would-be indie filmmakers who, in a nutshell, turn murder into art.
A portrait of psychoses and mid-life crises, any deeper meanings to be read into Dupieux’s latest (which he also wrote, edited and lensed) are potentially unnecessary since the film, like several others from the filmmaker (including Rubber and Wrong) plays like one long-running gag, the milieu of which just needs to be accepted. But even with its brief running time, Dupieux’s latest sometimes wears thin despite its committed leads and dependable supporting cast.
Dujardin is entertaining as the clueless and daffy Georges—early on in his flight from his failed marriage, he stuffs a corduroy jacket into the toilet of a gas station (not unlike what Jennifer Jones apparently did with her furs on the set of Indiscretion of an American Wife) before he obtains the visual vestige of his new persona from Albert Delpy (an odd appearance from the actor, father of Julie Delpy).
Landing in a rural hamlet where an old camcorder and vintage book about filmmaking inspire him to make a manifesto, he employs the equally off-key bartender Denise (Haenel), who just so happens to be a skilled editor, drawn into his schemes of filmmaking as he lies about his producers on a new project who are stuck in Siberia. The cute weirdness descends into gory violence when Georges becomes unable to pay his filmmaking participants.
Shot in a drab, rural landscape, both Georges and Denise are color coded like the skin of the animals he so prizes—the eye is drawn to little in these frames, suggesting a wilderness or hinterland which isn’t actually controlled by humans (or they’ve simply given up). We meet precious few of the other citizens, an exception being an early appearance from Marie Bunel, who misinterprets the intentions of Georges.
A pronounced, eerie score from Janko Nilovic is a constant reminder of Dupieux’s intentions to constantly aggravate our expectations and succeeds in creating the campiest display of snuff filmmaking since Joel Schumacher’s 8MM.