For his third film Tu Dors Nicole, Stéphane Lafleur chooses to explore the world of young adults in Montreal. He has previously directed Continental, Un Film Sans Fusil (2007) and En Terrains Connus (2011) and also worked as an editor for the well-known film Monsieur Lazhar (2011).
Tu Dors Nicole follows Nicole (Julianne Côté), a 22-year-old girl, who slowly enters the world of adulthood. This summer, she finally has the house to herself and receives her first credit card. She lives in the suburbs of Montreal where she bikes around to her house, to work, to the local ice cream shop and back and forth… until her 30-year-old brother, Rémi (Marc-André Grondin), shows up with his band and disturbs her comfortable environment.
During her summer, Nicole is only seen hanging out with her best friend, Véronique (Catherine St-Laurent). Though they are both at different places in their lives; Véronique has an apartment and lives on her own, owns a car and works in an office. Nicole lives with her parents and still babysits. She is always over at Nicole’s house and they become friendly with Rémi’s band mates, JF (Francis La Haye) and Pat (Simon Larouche). Everyday becomes the same and nothing really seems to happen during their summer. Together, Nicole and Véronique decide to spice up their summer and book a trip to Iceland. When they are asked by Rémi’s friends what they are going to do in Iceland, Nicole replies, “Well nothing, but we’re going to do nothing somewhere else.”
Nicole’s humdrum summer is extremely relatable for young adults. You always anticipate summer and expect it to be extremely grand but most of the time — well I can definitely speak for myself here — it just turns out to be another regular summer. Everything is flat and some days become very long. The summer is dull, plans never seem to happen, and you hang out with the same people. Maybe we expect too much of this warm season and maybe these anticipations affect our idea of summer in a bad way. Nicole’s summer cannot be exciting and filled with parties because the film would have not been as realistic and relatable as it is. Lafleur successfully demonstrates the reality and simplicity of a young adult’s summer.
Tu Dors Nicole also has a crucial nostalgic feeling to it; summer is not like it used to be when you were fifteen. Adulthood makes our summers less fun in a way; we have jobs, responsibilities, we can’t go out as often as we would want to and we have bills to pay. The movie made me feel like a rainy Sunday afternoon; I felt so melancholic and wistful. The story also contains something very dreamlike and unrealistic, such as their trip to Iceland which is such an odd and random destination for these girls, as well as the 10-year-old boy Nicole babysits, Martin (Godefroy Reding) who has a crush on her but has a voice of a 35-year-old man.
The film is visually striking; the cinematography is absolutely beautiful. The suburbs seem dull, repetitive and colourless. By making the whole film in black and white, Lafleur adds an artistic touch to the ordinary and plainness of this reality. It fits with the tone and mood of the story, and adds a lot to what the film is trying to make us feel. It just would not be right in bright colours.
If you are in your early twenties, you will be able to relate to Nicole — not only to her summer but to this particular stage in life. You will feel like you have walked in Nicole’s shoes or you may be currently in these shoes, feeling the same way she does. She seems confused, jaded, and does not know how to feel about certain things. Nothing really happens during her summer but at the same time, all that has happened has occurred and when the summer comes to an end, a lot has changed. Maybe Nicole has grown, maybe she has learnt but she definitely won’t feel the same way when the new year begins.
Tu Dors Nicole opened August 22.