Sophie Quinton and Jean-Paul Rouve as seen in "Nobody Else But You,"… (Jean-Claude Lother / First…)
Early in the deadpan crime comedy "Nobody Else but You," a blocked writer drives through a snow-covered landscape while listening to Jose Feliciano sing "California Dreamin.'" It's a perfect pop reverie, encapsulating not only the character's sense of dislocation — he's a Parisian caught up in a small-town mystery — but also the movie's westward-facing riffs.
In the remote locale, America's gumshoe pulp fiction and taste for celebrity tragedy take center stage (one tragic celebrity in particular), to the film's detriment.
The man behind the wheel is David Rousseau (Jean-Paul Rouve, likably hangdog and resilient), an author of detective novels who happens to be in the frigid Alps when a local starlet turns up dead, an apparent suicide. Shaken out of his inertia, Rousseau navigates "Twin Peaks" terrain — dead beauty, cops good and bad, kooks — to prove that the cheese mascot-turned-weathergirl was murdered.
Candice Lecoeur (Sophie Quinton), who believed she had a special connection to Marilyn Monroe, appears in flashbacks and occasionally provides from-the-beyond narration, à la "Sunset Boulevard."
From a "Belle du Jour" pun to a scene straight out of "The Misfits," writer-director Gerald Hustache-Mathieu leaves few movie allusions unturned. The enduring mythology of Monroe enters the story as a mildly engaging echo and turns into an all-consuming avalanche, leaving out in the cold much of what feels fresh and appealing about the film.
Quinton, a wan Marilyn stand-in, convinces as a provincial innocent sacrificed on the sex-kitten altar. The bigger sacrifice, as "Nobody Else but You" proceeds, is the Gallic drollery of its early scenes.
"Nobody Else but You." No MPAA rating; in French with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes. At the Nuart Theatre, West Los Angeles.