Imagine, if you will, that David Lynch and the Coen brothers had a French son. This is the movie he would make. Nobody Else but You is a darkly hilarious murder mystery that nods to Twin Peaks, Barton Fink, Fargo, and even The Big Lebowski. Let's get one thing out of the way right now: This is an incredible film, and you should go watch it. Now, let's dig a bit deeper; the devil is in the details, after all.
David Rousseau is a bestselling Parisian crime novelist who goes to the remote community of Mouthe to collect inheritance from a recently deceased aunt. We soon discover that the deadline for his next novel is upon him, and that he is suffering from writer's block. When he discovers that local celebrity Candice Lecouer has died under mysterious - and convenient - circumstances, he is inspired. Working from his freshly (read: ghastly) wallpapered hotel room, he sets out to uncover the truth about Lecouer's death. If any of this sounds a bit familiar, dear reader, you would be correct. You may remember that John Turturo spends time in a Hollywood hotel as a New York playwright in Barton Fink, an early Coen brothers' film. The hotel has been freshly wallpapered, and he suffers writer's block during his stay. Every turn that the plot of Nobody Else But You takes is riveting, and often darkly comedic - much like Fargo. Also like Fargo, it is set against a cold wintery landscape, with matching cinematography.
I suppose this would be a good time to take a look at our characters. David Rousseau (played by Jean-Paul Rouve) is a bit one-dimensional, but that's alright. His story is plot driven, and we get a second, character-driven plot narrated by Candice Lecouer (Sophie Quinton). Through his amateur investigations, Rousseau finds Lecouer's diaries (we see them as flashbacks) chronicling her adolescence, and final days alive. Between reading her diaries and interviewing locals, Rousseau slowly begins to piece together the history of a girl who believed she was Marilyn Monroe reincarnated. Where Rousseau's story is about a mystery, Lecouer's story is about a girl with an identity crisis whose life spiraled into fame and ruin. Lecouer's life mirrors (almost identically, as the film points out) Monroe's. Born Martine Langevin, Lecouer's rise to fame began with a serendipitous (and spontaneous) photo shoot for a local calendar. It leads to an audition where she became the face of a local cheese company, which lead to her final career as the local (pin-up) weather girl. Her first husband (a championship nordic skier) was abusive, but as she says in her diary, “it's not me he's hitting, it's Candice, because she belongs to the public.” She puts on a face for her fans, and never gets to be her old self again.
If the characters are distinctly Coen, as well as the tone and landscapes, how does David Lynch fit in to the mix? The plot - this murder mystery - hearkens to Twin Peaks. The twists kept me on the edge of my seat, and I kept trying to guess who really killed her. Luckily, our filmmaker (Gerald Hustache-Mathieu) was not under pressure from studio execs, and could take his time revealing what actually happened to Laura Palmer - er, Candice Lecouer, I mean. Many of the shots that Hustache-Mathieu shows us have a very Lynchian feel to them as well.
I have been raving about how much Nobody Else but You feels like a Coen brothers' film crossed with David Lynch. Honestly, though, it doesn't feel like either. It's almost as if Hustache-Mathieu were trying to emulate both, and found his own style somewhere in between. There are definite nods to the Coens and Lynch, but the film stands on its own. Unfortunately - sadly - it is French, which means that it will not get the recognition it deserves. We can only hope that it goes the route of Amelie, and becomes a classic in its own right.
Nobody Else but You saw a New York premiere on May 11, and will be opening in several cities across the U.S., including Los Angeles and Boston (June 8), Santa Fe (June 22), San Francisco/Berkley (July 6), Washington DC (August 3), Philadelphia (August 10), and Minneapolis (August 24). If you are in the area, go see it! Seriously. I can't say enough about this marvelous piece of cinema.