I distinctly remember when Deerskin was doing the festival circuits and that I felt strangely intrigued by its subject but equally there wasn’t enough there to draw me in, which just goes to say that old phrase…
Never judge a book by it’s cover.
Or at least don’t judge a film by its synopsis…
Yes, this film oozes independent movie making and the stereotypical associations that come with it when it comes to ‘quirkiness’, but there’s more going on beneath the surface of the weird and wonderful.
Part of my initial rebuke came down to a couple of things: My misunderstanding of the context, which on face value tells the story of a man going through a midlife crisis, blowing his entire fortune to fulfil his obsession for a deerskin jacket, resorting to criminal misgivings in order to attain his dream.
Whilst here at Surgeons of Horror, we dedicate our love to horror films, this isn’t your typical out and out horror. This is psychologically disturbing using its oddity and humour as a mask to the human psyche. We’re witnessing a descent into madness and delusion in pursuit of one man’s dream. A pursuit that leads him to shed his skin to regain an identity in order to feel, to emote and connect to something. It just so happens that this connection to the world comes in the form of a deerskin jacket.
The second misjudgement I casted was towards the films’ director, Quentin Dupiuex aka Mr Oizo! Remember that guy? Brought this hit to the late 90s…
Yeah that dude!
Plus he was responsible for creating a film about a homicidal tyre in pursuit of a woman, called Rubber. Yeah, you read that right.
So you can forgive me for casting assumptions on his craft, when in actuality, when you scrutinise his credits, there’s a strong theme that resonates through his work. The subject of obsession and the organic, physiology and biology of humanity. That desire or in some cases, killer instinct that compels us to pursue the impossible.
Part of Deerskin’s appeal is through its unpredictable, spontaneous nature. In this instance, Georges, our obsessed man on the brink, (Jean Dujardin – The Artist, in another compelling performance) as he shifts and turns with a touch of improvisation, living in the moment and responding to whatever life throws his way. He is in the NOW, damn the consequences.
Some scenes are shocking, some macabre, but there’s always the hint of dark humour that comes out of the maniacal and when things are deliberately off kilter.
The deeper he goes on his quest for fulfilment, the murkier and thwarted his life becomes, and the more loose and carefree he gets with his actions.
One identity that he attached himself to is that of a director of a film, which one can instinctively connect to that of a voyeur, but instead of looking outward, he casts himself as the subject matter. Ably assisting him in creating his vision, is a bartender, Denise (Adèle Haenel- Portrait of a Lady on Fire) with an interest in becoming an editor, who leaps at the opportunity when presented to her to be a part of Georges’ movie.
For Georges, there is only one drive. One passion. Deerskin.
Like any pursuit, our journey can lead to destruction and ruin.
Dupiuex manages to craft a curious descent into the lengths that one man will go to in order to pursue his dream.
It is truly an original, strengthened by solid, realistic performances.
Deeply compelling, with a subject that lures you in and keeps you captivated, through its idiosyncratic mindset.
- Saul Muerte
In Cinemas Now