Sunday, June 10, 2012

Nobody Else But You

If you stop and think about it, narration by a dead character shouldn’t work. Yet from “Sunset Boulevard” to “Miracle Mile” to the new French import “Nobody Else But You,” somehow it does. The decedent here is Candice Lecoeur (Sophie Quinton), the belle of Mouthe, the coldest village in France, whose twin claims to fame are her sex-kitten weather forecasts f...or a TV morning show and her commercials for a local creamery’s “Belle de Jura” cheese.

In the opening sequence, Candice dies, ostensibly by suicide – an overdose of pills – and a blocked writer passes the body-bag-toting policeman as he drives through town. But something in the eyes – not her eyes, the cop’s – grabs David Rousseau (Jean-Paul Rouve). He phones his editor with the beginnings of a new and long-promised manuscript, then settles into a gaudily appointed inn to begin his own investigation into her life and death.

Gerald Hustache-Mathieu’s film seems to know Mouthe in its soul: the snow that overnight turns a car into a car-shaped snowmass, the way Paris plates stick out like a sore thumb, the way the flouncy girl at the registration desk offers to come up to David’s room (to bring him a hot-water bottle…). I enjoyed sitting back and allowing the movie’s measured pace and wintriness to envelop me. There’s a wonderful scene in which David, who has hyperacusis, shows the cop (who reluctantly comes to aid his sleuthing) how he hears each distinct sound as he tromps in his boots in the snow.

Rouve gives a solid lead performance, but this atmospheric movie really belongs to Quinton. She’s sexy, to be sure, but she’s called upon to convey a wide range of emotions and qualities: Candice’s internal cognitive dissonance (she sometimes sees her persona – Candice is a stage name – as an entirely separate person), a playfulness that sometimes gives way to deep sadness, and an ingenuousness and intuition that allow her to see the good in bad people (one husband, a hotheaded former skiing champion, isn’t physically abusive toward her, she swears, but only to Candice) and the bad in good. It’s a demanding part and Quinton handles it deftly. I look forward to seeing – if you will – more of her.

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