Fifty Cents for Your Soul, by Jack Fleischer
The advanced press materials on Nobody Else But You call it the French meeting of Fargo and Twin Peaks, but that isn’t wholly accurate. Yes, it’s a semi-supernatural murder mystery set in a snow-blanketed part of the French countryside. Yes, there is a deceased young woman with a dark side. Yes, there are funny locals – but this film doesn’t have that black and sinister side to it. Instead it’s a murder mystery that’s cute and light and evaporates on the tongue like champagne.
Jean-Paul Rouve (La Vie En Rose) plays “David Rousseau,” a popular French crime novelist who’s visiting a small boarder town due to the death of a relative. Just as he’s about to leave, he passes a crime scene. The body of “Candice Lecoeur” (Sophie Quinton), a model for a small regional cheese company and the local weather girl, is found with a bottle of pills. Her death is ruled a suicide by the local constabulary. Rousseau on the other hand is suspicious, so he stays in the podunk town in order to conduct his own investigation.
Yet the murder mystery is secondary to this quirky kermis of characters. In fact Poupoupidou (Pou-pou-pi-dou!), the French title of this film, seems more apropos of the tone. Almost everyone in the tale is a faint reincarnation of someone from the life of Marilyn Monroe. Lecoeur in particular was a lip quivering bottle blonde who started off as a gas pumping brunette before being discovered and transformed into a bubbly sexpot.
Candice is charming and tragic, and the events in her life very neatly fall into a familiar mirror of Marilyn’s. Rousseau, who appears to be equal parts James Ellroy and Stephen King, does his best to convince others of the Norma Jeane metempsychosis during his post mortem investigation. As Rousseau tracks down bits and pieces of the cheese queen’s life he falls into the local culture, and even makes some enemies. This author’s quest is furthered by his own special quirk, an unnatural aural ability. Soon, Brigadier Bruno Leloup (Guillaume Gouix), a local cop with aspirations to join the Canadian Mounties, comes to his aid.
The performances are all solid. The story is cute, but not particularly deep. Everyone has their own moment of quirky charm. Unfortunately there are some elements that seem quirky, simply for the sake of quirk. As the film meanders like a European minibus through Marilyn’s life, these loose elements wind up sticking out like dangling threads off a Velvet Elvis.
Perhaps that’s not a fair analogy because Nobody Else But You is more than just a punch line.
The story’s climax is interesting, bittersweet, and fits the mystery. In the same way a Parisian bistro might put Brie and shallots on their version of a White Castle slider, this is really a French interpretation of American indie classics, homage to some iconic American culture. Even the soundtrack reflects this attitude of familiar reinterpretation by using covers of classic rock standards.
American quirk, or French charm, in the end Nobody Else But You is simply a light and fun murder mystery.