Le daim [Deerskin] (2019)

Le daim
Director: Quentin Dupieux
Writer: Quentin Dupieux
Cast: Jean Dujardin, Adèle Haenel, Albert Delpy, Coralie Russier
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 26.10.2019

Georges (Jean Dujardin) is turning over a new leaf after separating from his wife, and that starts with his jacket. Tired of his old one, he finds the jacket of his dreams in a personal ad: 100% deerskin and with a fringe, he is immediately head over heels for it. After spending all of his savings on the jacket (and receiving a camcorder as a gift), he withdraws to a small mountain town. At the local bar, he tells bartender Denise (Adèle Haenel) he is a filmmaker. She dreams of being a cutter herself. When Georges actually starts filming his adventures with his new jacket, he asks her to work on the material. From there, things start to go a little out of control.

When I watched this film at the Viennale, it was a late screening and I was tired, so I fell asleep after about three quarters of it. Since I enjoyed the first part, though, and I generally like Dupieux’s films, I have since re-watched it in its entirety, and I’m glad I did. It’s probably not Dupieux’s best film, but it is wonderfully weird.

The film poster showing an old TV set that's showing Georges (Jean Dujardin) in a cowboy hat.

At the heart of Le daim is Georges’ obsession with his jacket and that alone is such a funny idea. Not just that anyone would love a jacket quite that much, but also that it would be this jacket. I’m no fashion expert myself, but it is a fucking ugly thing. This obsession becomes the wish that he should be the only person in the world to wear a jacket, and his jacket the only remaining jacket. And that, too, is such an extra-ordinary idea that it gives the film yet another boost.

But saying that this is the only thing in the film would be selling it short. Because there is also the filmmaking angle here that gives Dupieux the possibility to, on the one hand, make fun of the cinematic community (anybody becomes a filmmaker with a camera). On the other hand, it also seems a reflection of what people generally think that you need to actually make a movie: yes, you need a bit of money, but more importantly, you need commitment, you need obsession, you need to devote yourself wholey to the project and never stray from it. Now, I’m not saying that this is actually true – and neither does the film. In fact , it calls that idea very much into question. What Georges makes isn’t necessarily art, but it is a huge waste of ressources and people for a very strange idea.

Georges (Jean Dujardin) admiring himself in his deerskin jacket in the mirror.

Dujardin and Haenel are a dream team. The film is focused much more on Georges and Dujardin gives him this relentless drive that is so all-encompassing you barely notice that it doesn’t actually go anywhere. And Haenel’s Denise is both believably naive and shrewd in a very interesting mix.

The film definitely has a sense of humor and knows when to call it quits so as not to outstay its welcome. Because as much as I enjoyed the idea, it could have grown a little tedious had they spun it out longer. Overall, the film may not be a revelation, but it is definitely entertaining.

Georges (Jean Dujardin) and Denise (Adèle Haenel) discussing the film.

Summarizing: fun for sure.

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