Director: Stéphane Lafleur | 93 minutes | comedy, drama | Actors: Julianne Côté, Pierre-Luc Lafontaine, Luc Senay, Anne-Renée Duhaime, Mark Barakat, Catherine St-Laurent, Marc-André Grondin, Francis La Haye, Simon Larouche, Evelyne Bonvin, Godefroy Reding, Alexis Lefebvre, Serge Patry, Denise Dubois, Bill Corday
Lame, livelier, liveliest. Those are the words that come to mind when you meet the 22-year-old title character in the comic drama ‘Tu dors Nicole’. It is the middle of summer in Quebec, Canada, Nicole’s parents are on vacation and she has the parental home to herself. In theory anyway. In practice, her brother, 10 years older, shows up to rehearse with his indie rock band. Nicole’s girlfriend Veronique also breaks the door, especially because the new drummer of the band is such a nice guy.
The girls (and the band) spend their summer days in comatose boredom. Nicole has a job in a distribution center for second-hand clothing, Veronique has a kind of office function in a kind of office. They also float in the pool in the garden or drink a beer on the terrace. In a momentary surge of energy, they play a round of mini golf at the local mini golf club. To eventually escape all that boredom, the friends book a holiday to Iceland and learn a few words of Icelandic. Like the Icelandic word for vacuuming, although they have no plans to vacuum in Iceland.
Nicole and Veronique are the kind of vacant young people we encounter especially in South American cinema. They are young adults waiting at a metaphorical station for the train that will take them to real life. Energetic youngsters who have nowhere to lose their energy and then mentally implode. The result is lethargy and, as with Nicole, insomnia and a chronically bad mood. That bad mood then eventually focuses on her environment.
Although ‘Tu dors Nicole’ follows a familiar path, the film is well worth it. The black and white images and the static shots give it a timeless character. There is a lot of humor in it, both in the dry dialogues and in the playful and creative visuals. The fact that Nicole is well played by Julianne Côté (type Shailene Woodley) is also a plus.
The greatest charm of ‘Tu dors Nicole’ is in its semi-surreal environment. The village in which Nicole lives is a universe in itself, with its quiet deserted streets, its curious bicycle shed and its equally curious night owls. And then there is Martin, an early old boy with an unexpectedly melodious voice.
The unusual elements and the lack of action and plot make ‘Tu dors Nicole’ less suitable for the mainstream fan. The connoisseur is treated to an hour and a half of humor, beautiful visuals and an exquisite choice of Icelandic words. But what will most of all stay with you is the slightly disturbing undercurrent and a main character that is quite endearing in all her grumpiness.