A French twist
By Stephanie Merry
Friday, August 3, 2012
Some movies stick with the viewer long after the credits roll, leaping to mind at random, begging to be mulled over and parsed.
The eccentrically comedic French murder mystery “Nobody Else but You” is not that movie. It’s an enjoyable way to spend 100 or so minutes, but once it ends, it might make a disappearing act from memory.
The film follows crime novelist David Rousseau (Jean-Paul Rouve), who travels to Mouthe, France -- a snowy enclave known as “Little Siberia” -- to claim a small inheritance after a death in the family. There, he stumbles upon much-needed fodder for his next book: A blonde model named Candice Lecoeur (Sophie Quinton) has been found dead in the middle of a snow-covered field. After little-to-no investigation, the death is ruled a suicide by overdose.
This is very odd, the writer decides, so he sets about unraveling Candice’s story through all kinds of hijinks, including sneaking into a morgue, stealing the dead woman’s diaries, forming an unlikely friendship with an aspiring detective and butting heads with the stubbornly unhelpful chief of police.
While there are moments of suspense, the movie feels more like a humor piece than a thriller. There are sight gags, including David driving a moped through a snowstorm, and farcical scenarios: Lecoeur’s big break was a cheese commercial in which she posed mostly naked, suggesting how a little bite could satisfy someone’s every desire.
There is even a dash of the supernatural, although that element crops up sporadically and feels like an afterthought. In one scene, Candice speaks from beyond the grave, while there is also discussion about how she might have been Marilyn Monroe in a past life.
With crazy hair and a scruffy beard, Rouve isn’t the stereotypical leading man, but he’s a fun companion on this cryptic journey as a grizzled novelist with an eye for details and hyper-acute hearing to match.
David’s observant nature is one of the many quirks that make the movie so engaging; his skill for noticing idiosyncracies is mirrored in the camerawork. There’s an inclination toward tight shots that reveal little clues: a small bottle of rum poured into a mug; the potentially meaningful recurrence of the number five. With the exception of sweeping vistas of snowy mountains, there isn’t a lot of emphasis on the big picture.
Maybe that’s what makes this movie such a fleeting pleasure: The little snippets are what writer-director Gerald Hustache-Mathieu does best. But these small diversions detract from the overall mystery, reducing the audience’s urge to find out what happened to Candice. When the process is so agreeable, why would anyone crave the end?
Contains nudity, sexual situations and language. In French with English subtitles.