Nobody Else But You (Poupoupidou) -- Film Review

A quirky murder mystery where the world’s most famous blond gets resurrected in rural France.

PARIS — There’s a hint of 'Twin Peaks' and a large helping of the Coen Bros. in this offbeat, cleverly crafted French thriller about a crime-fiction writer investigating the death of a local TV star who believed she was the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe.

Backed by a strong lead performance from Jean-Paul Rouve and some gorgeous wintertime landscapes, this second feature from writer-director Gerald Hustache-Mathieu could attract arthouse audiences interested in a movie from France that doesn’t only involve sex and chatter (though there’s some of both on display, plus some odd snippets of full-frontal male nudity).

What sets Nobody Else But You apart from most local fare is its dark comic tone and accomplished aesthetics which, along with the fact that lots of scenes take place in the snow, makes it perhaps the closest thing to Fargoto come along in a long while. But the film’s more than passing resemblance to both that and the 1990 David Lynch series is also what renders it fairly derivative, while all the Marilyn Monroe references only distract from the core story.

David Rousseau (Rouve) is a cult novelist whose peculiar oeuvre includes works like Tax Haven, Mon Amourand The Bride Wore Phosphorescent — books likely to be appreciated for their titles rather than their literary qualities. When he travels on family business to the distant mountain village of Mouthe (located in the Jura region bordering France and Switzerland), he nearly stumbles (or rather slips) onto the corpse of Candice Lecoeur (Sophie Quinton), by far the town’s most attractive specimen, and also a minor celebrity thanks to her steamy news weathercasts and erotic advertisements for a local brand of cheese called “Belle de Jura.” (Bunuel fans take note.)

Though Candice’s death is ruled a suicide by a suspicious looking police commander (Olivier Rabourdin), David believes there’s much more to her story, and so becomes obsessed with Candice as countless fans were mesmerized by Monroe both during and after her lifetime. As it turns out, there are a tad too many similarities between the sexy cheese girl and the Some Like It Hot star: They’re both blond, beautiful and incredibly depressed. Plus, Candice’s various love affairs seem awfully familiar, with similar tastes for famous athletes, writers and politicians.

Even if it’s amusing to see how David uses the Monroe connection to try to solve the murder as well as to provide fodder for his next novel, the string of coincidences winds up making Candice’s story seem superficial where it could have turned into something substantial. Meanwhile, a side plot involving David’s relationship with a helpful gendarme (Guillaume Gouix) fails to give the characters extra weight.

Despite such shortcomings, the movie remains more than watchable thanks to Hustache-Mathieu’s visual skills, which are showcased via Pierre Cottereau’s cool-toned widescreen cinematography. Along with smart sound design and a soundtrack filled with bluesy covers of classics like “I Put a Spell on You” and “California Dreamin’,” we are very much in Lynch and Coen Bros. territory here, which is always a pleasant place to be.

Rouve (The Easy Way) is one of the few working French actors who can add depth to a comic performance, and even if there’s never much to learn about David, his quest for the truth remains captivating through the end. As a Monroe wannabe, Quinton is seductive and enigmatic, though a far cry from the original. But who wouldn’t be?

Production companies: Dharamsala, France 2 Cinema
Producer: Isabelle Madelaine
Director of photography: Pierre Cottereau
Production designer: Marie-Helene Sulmoni
Music: Stephane Lopez
Costume designer: Pierre Canitrot
Editor: Valerie Deseine
Sales Agent: MK2
No rating, 102 minutes