Nobody Else But You

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Robin Clifford of Reeling Reviews
Robin Clifford 
  Nobody Else But You
Laura Clifford of Reeling Reviews
Laura Clifford 

Best-selling crime novelist David Rousseau (Jean-Paul Rouve) passes through a small, remote French village of Mouthe and witnesses a body being removed from a snow-cover field. The victim, he soon learns, is a local beauty, Candice Lecoeur (Sophie Quinton), but the more he learns about the young woman, the more he believes that there was foul play in “Nobody Else But You.”

Robin:
Take the infamous affair between JFK and Marilyn Monroe, clone it and drop it into a remote rural region in France, add a novelist suffering from writer’s block and the questioned death of a local beauty and you get “Nobody Else But You.” Director Gerald Hustache-Mathieu creates a truly unique work that pays homage to writers and directors of thrillers and, especially, to Marilyn and tells a story that parallels the life and death of MM. All the speculations about Kennedy and Monroe, their affair and her tragic death are laid out in Candice’s own story that also ends in tragedy.

This frigid who-dun-it is also a definite nod to the Coen brothers and “Fargo” with its barren, icy cold and bleak landscapes but it is not imitation by any means. Writer-director Hustache-Mathieu puts his own imprint on this entertaining crime thriller and shows a deft hand working his camera, cast and crew while telling an intriguing modern fable. He plainly states, with his parallel tale, just what he thinks of Marilyn (he loves her, obviously), JFK and RFK (does not love them) and even a J. Edgar Hoover. His surrogates for these historical American icons and locale in rural Mouthe, France (the coldest town in the country), bring the lofty legend down to human levels.

Jean-Paul Rouve, as detective-writer David, is the anchor of the film as he gets the inkling of an idea after driving past the crime scene where Candice’s body was found, so desolate a place it is called No Man’s Land. He returns to the town and begins digging into the apparent suicide. He figures there is a story for a novel here but is not prepared for one that involves murder, corruption and cover-up.

 It is Sophie Quinton as Candice Lecoeur (nee Martine Langevin), though, who is the focus of “Nobody Else But You.” Her story is told in flash backs to different stages of her life, allowing her story – hopeful beginnings, rise to fame, tragic death – to be carefully pieced together so our thoughts and impressions of Candice slowly change as her life unfolds. Quinton is sexy, sad, happy and melancholy as she builds her sympathetic Candice to a fully dimensioned tragic figure.

The thriller story of corruption and cover-up is tightly woven and the veteran cast that makes up the conspirators in the plot is well-developed. They are not just some sinister characters lurking in the shadows but have complex motivations in their uncovered, by David, cover-up. That Hustache-Mathieu is able to also make a heart-felt homage to Marilyn and those filmmakers who influenced his own career makes me look forward to the future works of this talented auteur. I give it a B+.

Laura:
Thriller writer David Rousseau (Jean-Paul Rouve, "La vie en rose") has a mental block when he travels to France's coldest town, Mouthe, for the reading of a will that nets him nothing but a taxidermied pet dog. On his way home, however, he witnesses the removal of a corpse from 'No Man's Land' on the Swiss border. She was Candice Lecoeur (Sophie Quinton, "Angel of Mine"), a regional celebrity weather girl and symbol of Belle de Jura cheese and Rousseau doesn't buy the official cause of death in "Nobody Else But You."

Too bad the film's original title was ditched in favor of the more generic lyric from the same song, as 'Poupoupidou' fits writer/director Gérald Hustache-Mathieu's comedic snowy noir thriller's unique tone much better.  This French import is an amalgamation of many things that add up to a distinct filmmaking voice, a modern day "Laura" with a Fargoesque setting, Agatha Christie like plotting and the reincarnation of a Hollywood icon.  The film's only real drawback is its insistence on obvious symbol dropping with the number 5 that doesn't have a satisfying payoff and often seems incongruous in retrospect.

Rousseau checks into Mouthe's Snowflake Hotel where Goth receptionist (and only evident employee) Betty (Clara Ponsot) finds a way to hit on him at every meeting.  That evening he sees the news about Lecoeur and travels back to the snowy field where she was found to start his own investigation.  He also meets Brigadier Bruno Leloup (Guillaume Gouix), who warns him away  but eventually becomes an ally when Commandant Colbert (Olivier Rabourdin, "Midnight in Paris") keeps pushing the original verdict, suicide, despite the logical questions Rousseau keeps raising.  Rousseau breaks into Lecoeur's apartment in an old cookie factory and discovers the desk compartment where she kept her journals was jimmied.  Still they're all there except for the last.

Hustache-Mathieu uses the journals as a flashback device so that we, along with Rousseau, can go back and witness Martine Langevin's rise to fame.  She's given a new name, her hair is dyed cotton candy blond and she gets tied up with Regional President Jean-François Burdeau (Ken Samuels, "OSS 117: Lost in Rio") when he offers to help her get a film role.  Oh, and based on her sessions with psychiatrist Dr. Juliette Geminy (Arsinée Khanjian, "Ararat," "Adoration"), who unethically shares a recording, we learn she believes she was Marilyn Monroe reincarnated (the director was inspired by the real life case of Sherri Lea Laird - check youtube for hypnosis videos).

Rouve is essentially a straight man for the eccentrics around him, grounding the film with his dogged pursuit of the truth and Quinton does a great job paralleling Marilyn, a woman sweetly and generously connecting with fans and photographers hiding a troubled personal life.  Gouix is a likable ally and Ponsot is a standout as the local looking for love.  But none of the film's many suspects really register all that strongly - they fare better as pictures on Rousseau's board as he connects the parallels between Monroe and Lecoeur for Leloup.

The film has a distinct look with cinematographer Pierre Cottereau ("A Common Thread") making hay with his wintery locale.  Production design features unique settings - the wondrously weirdly wallpapered Snowflake, the repurposed cookie factory - and props - the red-rimmed firemen's life net and the artificial green grass of photo shoots - that add color pops.  Hustache-Mathieu defies gratuitous nudity cliches by hinting at Quinton's nakedness while boldly featuring full frontal male (Rousseau isn't desired by that hotel clerk alone, but seems to ignore the boldest of Bruno's attentions).  He sets up one scene outside a Church like a classic drawing room mystery, a mini parody of the genre.

That number 5?  It's Rouseau's room number, his Paris street address, Martine's morgue locker number. We see it on the record spinning at her funeral and learn that's she's blown '5 lines that a 5 year-old could learn.'  It's everywhere, but in the end its up to the viewer to guess its components and they don't add up to much.

B-
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