CAPSULE: NOBODY ELSE BUT YOU [POUPOUPIDOU] (2011)

DIRECTED BY: Gérald Hustache-Mathieu

FEATURING: Jean-Paul Rouve, Sophie Quinton, Guillaume Gouix

PLOT: In a snowbound French town, a crime novelist investigates the death of a local celebrity who believed herself to be the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe.

Still from Nobody Else but You [Poupoupidou] (2011)

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Nobody Else but You flirts with weirdness, especially through some nods to “Twin Peaks,” but it only nudges the needle on the old Weirdometer a little past a reading of “offbeat.”

COMMENTS: Nobody Else but You may appeal most Marilyn Monroe-philes and fans of “Twin Peaks.” Hustache-Mathieu’s obsession with these bits of Americana, along with other pop cultural touchstones like crime novelist James Ellroy, isn’t likely to endear him to his countrymen, but it makes his style translate easily on these shores (this is a great French movie to show people who assume they hate French movies). Even the soundtrack is a retread, with chilly modern renditions of Sixties hits like “I Put a Spell on You” and “California Dreaming” (in English). With such flavorful inspirations, the movie never entirely becomes its own thing; but that’s not a huge problem, since Hustache-Mathieu borrows with taste, and the novelty occurs in the mixture of iconic inspirations. The Marilyn Monroe references are easy to pick up on—maybe too easy—but the “Twin Peaks” nods are a little subtler. There’s the general tone of quirky menace, the setting of an isolated country town full of strange characters, and the theme of an outsider investigating the death of a wholesome blonde local celebrity who turns out to have terrible secrets. The director adds a few more specific references, like secret tapes held by a psychiatrist, a flickering-lights-in-the-morgue scene, and the shrouded headshot of the beautiful corpse dusted with powder. This movie doesn’t go deliriously over-the-top with Lynch‘s mix of melodrama, comedy and surrealism, however; and the dour crime novelist replacing “Peaks”‘ gung-ho G-man along with the general hostility of the villagers to the outsider mark other significant differences from the TV scenario. Prematurely craggy Jean-Paul Rouve is intense and obsessed enough to serve as the audience’s conduit into the mystery. He gets a little help from the one sympathetic cop in town, though there’s no payoff to the awkward homoerotic chemistry that develops between the two. Like Michelle Williams in 2011’s more famous My Week with Marilyn, Sophie Quinton isn’t exactly a dead ringer for Norma Jean Mortenson, but she captures the essentially quality of Marilynishness: that potent mix of raw sex and delicious tragedy. Real-time narration by the corpse, the sexiest cheese ad you’ve ever seen, and a photo shoot with nude firemen score significant quirk points and keep the interest from flagging. It may not be the weirdest movie out there, but it’s different enough to engage the adventurous viewer. If you’re a Marilyn Monroe fanatic, or if you’re just in the mood for a light and mild French variation on a David Lynch/Coen Brothers thriller, you could do a lot worse.

When watching this movie, look out for the number “5.” You could even make a drinking game out of spotting the numeral, if you were inclined to get really hammered.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…a subversive and strange little film noir…”–Boyd van Hoeij, Variety (contemporaenous)

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