Monday, May 7, 2012

NOBODY ELSE BUT YOU: From France, via FRF, comes Gérald Hustache-Mathieu's honey of a funny, sweet murder mystery

What a delightful mash-up of genres is NOBODY ELSE BUT YOU (original title: Poupoupidou, and if that reminds you of a certain Miss Monroe and a song she sang in Some Like It Hot, it's quite intentional). Combining a murder mystery (the film opens with someone finding the dead body of a gorgeous young woman), life in a small provincial town (Mouthe, said to be the coldest place in France), politics and power, psychology and the vicissitudes of book publishing, neo-noir and Marilyn Monroe, this nifty, juicy and truly unusual entertainment from writer/director Gérald Hustache-Mathieu takes the Monroe legend and turns it into something original that far outdoes the rather standard but perfectly enjoyable My Week With Marilyn that debuted to much hoo-hah (but not much box-office) last year. This movie won't be raking in the cash, either (it's subtitled -- and bizarre) but for film buffs who revel in something different done well, it's a must-see. And don't worry: Odd as it is, the film will prove perfectly accessible to any intelligent audience.

M. Hustache-Mathieu, shown at right, with some writing help from Juliette Sales, has crafted a tale of a successful mystery writer, down on his luck, ability and income, who, while driving through a small town gets ensnared into the life (recently ended) of a local TV weather girl. This late young lady, born Martine Langevin but rechristened Candice Lecoeur, either thought she was the reincarnation of Marilyn, or simply has a heavy-duty Monroe complex. Either way, she has (er, had) become the very model of her heroine, a look-alike, act-alike, sing-alike replica of the va-va-voom actress in all her glory, right down to the calendar poses (see poster, top, and still, below) and the diva-cum-little-girl attitude she couldn't help but flaunt.

As played by the marvelous French actress Sophie Quinton, who, each time we see her -- Who Killed Bambi?, Angel of Mine, and the upcoming One Night (formerly titled 38 Witnesses) -- appears more beautiful, versatile and talented, this strange, sweet, sad young woman is something else. No slam on Michelle Williams, who I thought did a lovely job as Marilyn, Ms Quinton's version is bolder, stronger and richer -- for she is required to play two roles: her own and someone else's, while making the two work together. She handles the job with remarkable ease and flair. All her scenes are flashbacks, of course, and yet taken together they -- and she -- fill out her role and character beautifully.

The rest of the large cast, down to the bit players are fine and fun but there are only two other major roles: The writer -- played by a fellow I've seen a few times but until now has never stood out -- Jean-Paul Rouve (above, left, with Quinton's image), and the very funny and charming "Brigadier" Leloup who is, I gather, something like an assistant in the police department. Leloup, a wonderfully complete and unique character is played by Guillaume Goiux (shown on the bottom bench, below), a very good actor whom I've seen only a few times in minor roles. He certainly comes into his own here: He's funny, sweet, sexy and dear, with his own full-frontal scene that he fills out as well as he does all else.

This film, in fact, has a couple of full-frontal male nude scenes -- both done with surprise, charm and fun. Those three words pretty well describe the movie itself and what you'll get from it. You'll also get a plot stuffed with twists and turns, red herrings and lovely winter snow scenes. The denouement offers up its own little surprise: a sad and ironic one that will send you out of the theater with a smile -- and maybe just a hint of a tear. If only... Nice work, M. Hustache-Mathieu!

Comparisons have been made of this film to those of the Coen Brothers and David Lynch. I realize that this may be good a marketing ploy, but really, there is almost no link to legitimately be made to those fine filmmakers -- both of whom have their own styles and idiosyncrasies. But so has this newer kid on the block. Just because a movie is different or because it combines death and laughs, let's not immediately feel the need to bring up the Coens or Lynch. Hustache-Mathieu has his own sensibility and a real film buff will appreciate this for what it is, rather is going for those odious comparisons.

From First Run Featureswith a running time of 102 minutes, Nobody Else But You is a pleasant change from FRF's usual array of end-of-times documentaries. Not that we don't need them, FRF. Keep 'em coming, please, but also keep giving us the occasional "fun" film now and again. The movie opens this Friday, May 11, in New York City at the Cinema Village, and in Seattle at Landmark's Varsity Theater. In the weeks to come it will play another dozen locations across the country; click here to see all currently scheduled playdates, cities and theaters.


Anonymous said...

Dan Zukovic's "THE LAST BIG THING", called the "best unknown American film of the 1990's in the film
book "Defining Moments in Movies" (Editor: Chris Fujiwara), was finally released on DVD by Vanguard
Cinema (, and is currently debuting
on Cable Video On Demand. Featuring an important early role by 2011 Best Supporting Actor Oscar
Nominee Mark Ruffalo ("Shutter Island", "Zodiac", "The Kids Are Alright"), "THE LAST BIG THING"
had a US theatrical release in 1998, and gained a cult following over several years of screenings on
the Showtime Networks.


"A distinctly brilliant and original work." Kevin Thomas - Los Angeles Times
"A satire whose sharpest moments echo the tone of a Nathaniel West novel...Nasty Fun!"
Stephen Holden - New York Times
"One of the cleverest recent satires on contemporary Los Angeles...a very funny sleeper!"
Michael Wilmington - Chicago Tribune
"One of the few truly original low budget comedies of recent years." John Hartl - Seattle Times
"'The Last Big Thing' is freakin' hilarious! The most important and overlooked indie film
of the 1990's!" Chris Gore - Film Threat

James van Maanen said...

Thank you, Anonymous, for this rather self-promoting comment -- which normally I wouldn't bother to post, but your words do make me want to find out more about THE LAST BIG THING. Consequently, I have stuck that title into my Netflix queue and will hope to view it soon --and then maybe comment on the movie in a separate post on this blog.