Tu Dors Nicole (2014)

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With its black and white cinematography, female lead character who seems to be struggling to move on with her life, sense of fun and energy, and good use of music, the first point of comparison for this movie may well be Frances Ha. It was certainly the first movie that I thought of as I left the cinema, pleased with what I had just seen. It’s not QUITE as pointed, or even poignant, as that great film, but the fact that it even comes close is a good thing.

Julianne Cote plays Nicole, a young woman who fails to make the most of her time left home alone. She spends a lot of her time in the company of her friend, Veronique (Catherine St-Laurent), and the chance to reap the benefits of an empty house soon disappear when her brother (Marc-Andre Grondin) arrives, along with his two bandmates. The brother assures Nicole that she won’t even notice them there, just before the trio begin another loud song practice that reverberates through the entire house. Having just received a shiny new credit card, Nicole decides that she should take a holiday. Meanwhile, she must avoid the advances of a young lad named Martin (Godefroy Reding), a boy many years her junior who often speaks, in terms of the ideas AND his deep voice, like a much older soul.

Cote is excellent in the lead role, and she’s matched by St-Laurent, Grondin, Reding (although a lot of the credit for that performance should go to the person responsible for the voice emanating from his childish voicebox), and Pierre-Luc Lafontaine (the drummer that Nicole seems to find herself slightly attracted to). Nobody strikes a false note, which helps the smooth transition from comedy to more serious moments to the outright surreal.

Director Stephane Lafleur, who also wrote the script based on a story by Valerie Beaugrand-Champagne, does a good job here of mixing some strange elements into a film that is otherwise very grounded. The first appearance of Martin, and every other time he comes onscreen, is a big laugh, and there are quite a few other little chuckles along the way. And then there are the scenes that have you riveted, despite the fact that they just have characters looking at one another. Viewers will end up thinking about character motivations, and morality, which all helps to distract you from the fact that nothing much of note actually happens throughout most of the film. Not on the surface anyway. That’s not a major criticism. This is just one of those films happy to let viewers chew on subtext and their own interpretation of certain images, which is why it never feels as immobile or pointless as it could.

Tu Dors Nicole was screened at EIFF 2015.

DIRECTOR: STEPHANE LAFLEUR
WRITER: STEPHANE LAFLEUR, STORY BY VALERIE BEAUGRAND-CHAMPAGNE
STARS: JULIANNE COTE, CATHERINE ST-LAURENT, PIERRE-LUC LAFONTAINE, MARC-ANDRE GRONDIN, GODEFROY REDING
RUNTIME: 93 MINS APPROX
COUNTRY: CANADA

Film Rating: ★★★½☆

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