You have to wonder if French director Quentin Dupieux is laughing at all of us with his latest film, Deerskin.
This is the man who once made a film starring a homicidal car tire.
This time his antihero is a middle-aged man who becomes obsessed with a fringed deerskin jacket.
Georges (Jean Dujardin) has just left his wife, who tells him when he calls, “You don’t exist.”
He drives off aimlessly and ends up in a lonely Alpine village, where he blows all his money (about $12,000) on the deerskin jacket – then finds his wife has blocked their bank account.
He books into a deserted hotel, using his gold wedding ring as surety, then poses proudly in front of the mirror, admiring the “killer style” of his deerskin jacket.
He starts having conversations with the jacket and embarks on an irrational quest to ensure that this will be the only jacket left in the world.
That’s when we realise he is completely delusional.
Is it some sort of mid-life crisis, or is it Dupieux sending us up as we struggle to work out what he is getting at?
It’s a tribute to Dupieux’s skill – he wrote, directed, shot and edited the film — that it keeps us absorbed for its 77-minute length.
At the hotel Georges passes himself off as a professional film-maker whose crew is stranded in Siberia.
Using an old camcorder, thrown in by the seller of the deerskin jacket, he films himself persuading would-be actors to hand over their jackets, which he stuffs into his car boot and then destroys.
The hotel barmaid, Denise (Adele Haenel), who dreams of becoming a film editor, decides that Georges’ scriptless raw footage has the mark of genius.
She empties her bank account so he can continue filming, and eggs him on to perform more outrageous acts.
“You want more close-ups, more blood,” she insists. He is happy to oblige.
What does it all mean?
Is it a satire on masculine vanity, on the pretentiousness of art-house film-makers, or our fascination with cold-blooded killers?
Bizarre as it is, Deerskin is certainly original, and its two charismatic stars make the most of their roles.
Deerskin opens on 6 August at Luna Leederville.
Watch the trailer…