An object of intense personal desire, he has travelled to the Pyrenees on the French border with Spain to bring it into his possession, willing to pay €7,500 to have it: the deerskin jacket. Made in Italy, 100% deerskin, with fringe fully intact, it is the reinvention of Georges, a middle-aged man of grey beard and thinning hair whose crisis has seen him abandon his wife but now looks in the mirror and beholds something more than before.
Given an unwanted handheld video camera as part of the sale, he declares himself a filmmaker and inveigles himself into an unpaid for hotel room from where he will begin to realise his ambition, to be the owner of the only jacket in the world, creating a video diary of how he will persuade all others to rid themselves of their outer garments, the deerskin seeing its own desire to be the only jacket in the world reflected in his goal and encouraging him.
Written and directed by Quentin Dupieux whose self-reflective Rubber saw an anthropomorphic pneumatic tyre on a killing spree and who put a fuzzy yellow puppet on top of the charts as his alter-ego Monsieur Oizo, Deerskin (Le Daim, more literally The Deer) is equally self-contained and as disinclined to explain itself as the quietly monstrous Georges himself.
Focused on his preposterous and pointless plan but without a clue how to achieve it, The Artist’s Jean Dujardin is Georges, never missing a chance to admire himself even as he lies and begs for scraps, recruiting local barmaid Denise (Portrait of a Lady on Fire‘s Adèle Haenel) to be his editor, cutting together his rough footage without a benefit of a script and using her bank account to fund his excursions.
A comedy as off-kilter and as bizarre as The Lobster, another tale of the lonely consciously isolating themselves and giving full rein to quirks both selfish and sociopathic, Georges is shameless in his abuse of the locals, abusing their trust then discarding them once he has what he needs, Denise at first humouring him then becoming an accomplice; if it works for him, why should she not also take advantage?
Premiered in Cannes in 2019, Deerskin could almost be seen as a tragicomedy which obliquely mocks the false hopes and broken promises of Brexit, Georges cutting his established ties and indulging in a fantasy in which he is recognised and desired by women, making unreasonable demands and considering himself a success despite being disliked and penniless, proudly telephoning home to confirm to his disinterested wife that he has left her to be told bluntly, in effect, “if you’ve left me why are you still calling me?”
Deerskin will be on limited release from Friday 16th July