“Only parts of us will ever touch parts of others.” (Norma Jean Baker)
David Rousseau, a bestselling novelist stuck for an idea, goes to Mouthe, the coldest city in France. While he is there the town’s celebrity, Candice Lacouer, a young woman who has posed for a cheese label, is found dead in the snow, clutching a bottle of pills. The police call it a suicide and move on. But the writer is intrigued. The more he looks, the more he discovers, not just about what happened but about who this woman was and how ephemeral happiness can be.
Nobody Else But You is a genre-blending film. Part thriller, part comedy, part noir, this film tries to fit into the mold of Coen Brothers films. The setting in the cold, barren Mouthe is very similar to the Minnesota landscape of Fargo. The film is also an examination of the phenomenon of celebrity, with special reference to Marilyn Monroe.
It turns out that Candice has come to believe that she is the reincarnation of Monroe. As the film plays out, the parallels of their stories are very clear. Some of this may be because she is conscious of her supposed connection with Monroe, but some seems quite natural.
The search for… something… is at the center of this film. Perhaps trying to understand what is being sought after is the real challenge the film presents. David is trying to find inspiration for a book. Later as he looks into Candice’s life and death, he may be looking for the truth—or maybe only for what he wants the truth to be. When we see Candice’s life, it seems to be a constant search for any of a variety of things: fame, happiness, acceptance, love—above all love. And as we see so much of the myth of Marilyn Monroe being played out in Candice’s life, we may ponder just what Monroe was searching for in her own life.
There is also a sense that even though this is a French film, it is very much about the American Dream—that idea that with work and luck someone can have it all. It is that dream that the mythos surrounding Marilyn Monroe often serves to critique. Here was a woman who remade herself to find success, but never seemed to be able to find happiness. A woman known by the whole world, but also one who no one seemed able to know. One of her husbands, Arthur Miller, called Monroe “the saddest girl who ever lived,” (a line also used for Candice in the film). We may think she should have been the embodiment of that dream, instead she is a prime example of that dream unfulfilled.
While this may not make it quite up to the standards of a Coen Brothers film, Nobody Else But You still serves as an Existential look at life and all the things that we think should fill our lives. And it is a reminder that getting all we ever wanted may not be any more fulfilling than struggling along life’s winding roads.