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Originally published Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 3:00 PM

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Movie review

'Nobody Else But You': A playful noir in small-town France

A review of "Nobody Else But You" (previously titled "Poupoupidou"), a playful little film noir involving a French crime-novelist and a small-town beauty.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 3 stars

'Nobody Else But You,' with Jean-Paul Rouve, Sophie Quinton, Guillaume Gouix, Olivier Rabourdin, Clara Ponsot. Written and directed by Gérald Hustache-Mathieu. 102 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences (contains nudity). In French with English subtitles. Harvard Exit.

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Previously seen at last year's Seattle International Film Festival under the title "Poupoupidou" (say it out loud, with your breathiest Marilyn Monroe pout), the French thriller "Nobody Else But You" has an intriguing premise: Our two main characters seem meant for each other, except for the inconvenient fact that one of them is dead. David Rousseau (Jean-Paul Rouve) is a crime novelist trying to write "a James Ellroy masterpiece," except he isn't James Ellroy; Candice Lecoeur (Sophie Quinton) is a glamorous small-town blonde who's famous for being the face of a brand of cheese — and, as the movie opens, her lifeless body is found by a skier in a snowy field.

Candice's death is quickly ruled to be a suicide, but David is skeptical, and moves himself into the gloomy Snowflake Hotel in Candice's hometown, Mouthe (better known as the coldest village in France), to investigate. With Candice's voice narrating from her diaries, David soon finds himself with more than enough suspects in the crime — not to mention a sultry-eyed hotel clerk, improbably named Betty (Clara Ponsot), who promptly falls for him.

Writer/director Gérald Hustache- Mathieu gives it all a literary intelligence and a sense of breathless, playful noir ("Were you Agent Mulder in another life?" a cop asks David), as Candice emerges as a sweetly vulnerable Marilyn-wannabe who keeps pills in her locket, and David as a fiction writer suddenly enchanted by elusive truth. You can imagine the smart, ever-shifting crime novel that this story might become. "It's always by the end," David muses, "that stories begin."

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

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