“Nobody Else But You,” Milwaukee Film Festival
Candice Lecoeur believes she is the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe in "Nobody Else But You," a surreal murder mystery "too compelling to look away."
At heart, Nobody Else But You is a murder mystery. A local celebrity from the coldest town in France is found dead in an international no man’s land between the French and Swiss borders. She’s buried in the snow with a bottle of pills in her hand. The local police call it a suicide, and since her body is not in their jurisdiction, close the case. A writer of crime novels, however, happens to be in the tiny town. Nobody Else But You falls squarely into a dream-like world of dead starlets, impossible small-town glamour, from-the-grave love stories, a stand-in for James Ellroy, and a Marilyn Monroe reincarnation.
Born Martine Langevin, Candice Lecoeur (Sophie Quinton) is a beautiful, vulnerable, and desperately needy girl. She becomes the model and spokeswoman for a local cheese brand, goes on to become the weather girl, and is slated to star in a film being produced by the regional arts board when she dies. She thinks she is the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe. David Rousseau (Jean-Paul Rouve) is a frustrated, hard-living writer. Directed by Gerald Hustache-Mathieu, Nobody Else But You is the kind of movie you’d get if the Coen Brothers had an affair with Wes Anderson, and the resulting kid grew up on the set of Twin Peaks.
Candice Lacoeur really believes she is the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe. Her life has eerie parallels with Monroe’s, they share a birthday, they even look alike. Fitting the broad outlines of Marilyn’s out-sized, dramatic, glamorous life into the confines of a tiny town in northern France with a population of 900 requires some suspension of disbelief, but when you manage it, it’s worth it. The story, for all its surrealism and absurdist vignettes, is about loneliness and perception.
Lacoeur is desperately lonely, and she salves the loneliness in the only way she knows how: using her body to get approval. She is aware that she’s not actually loved—not for herself—because inside she’s Martine Langevin, but she can’t give up either the idea that someone will love Martine or the attention that being Candice gets her. Rousseau falls in love with her, post-mortem, and goes to great lengths to solve the mystery of her death. He breaks into her house, finds twenty years worth of journals, admires her writing and falls for her vulnerability.
There are more absurdist, dream-sequence scenes than can be counted. The receptionist at a hotel where Rousseau checks in is a caricature of French flirting, offering hot toddies and hot water bottles and slinking around. The hotel itself is opulently run-down, complete with faulty electric wires, allowing the lighting to flicker and even go out at opportune moments.
Rousseau befriends a policeman who finds him hiding behind the sofa in Candice’s apartment in an old cookie factory. The policeman aids him in not getting in trouble while investigating, and the two of them meet in a handsomely appointed sauna. There is a nightclub (in this town of 900) where starlet Candice can go wearing a wig and not be recognized while meeting her politician lover. There is an autistic boy in town that the policeman has to go and collect from a tree, where he is screaming in his underwear about he wants a woman. Rousseau makes himself a dinner of the cheese that made Candice famous and eats it off a lap tray as he sits on the toilet. Each of these scenes are ridiculous, and you realize this as you watch them, but they are so well-filmed, so expertly blocked, and so utterly self-aware of their ridiculousness that it is impossible not to get sucked into the dream.
Nobody Else But You is a murder mystery that solves itself as soon as the Marilyn Monroe connection is made, and yet you can’t stop watching it. You have to see it through, knowing how it will end. The world these people inhabit, the dream they live in, is too compelling to look away.
Nobody Else But You will screen four times during the Milwaukee Film Festival. The first screening is on Friday, Sept. 28, at the Fox-Bay Cinema Grill at 7:15 p.m. More information on additional showtimes can be found at TCD’s Flick by Flick guide to the festival.
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