Believe it or not, just depicting the ennui of a hot lazy summer in the suburban rural landscape can be a touch too understated to genuinely work as a piece of genuinely entertaining cinema. Tu Dors Nicole is a stylish, occasionally thematically interesting effort, but ultimately a dull affair that leaves too much to characters that don’t stand out enough to make an impression with anyone after the movie is over. There’s no lasting effect to the movie. It’s just simply there.
Nicole (Julianne Côté) is aimless, stuck in her hometown after graduation and working a dead end job in the midst of a hot Quebec summer while her parents are away. Her tired and apathetic funk persists when her older brother Remi (Marc-André Grondin) returns home with his new band mates, and jamming by day and getting drunk and stoned at night becomes the norm. When Nicole cooks up an idea to get out of town with her best friend to go to Iceland, excitement is afoot, but that changes pretty quick when Nicole sees that she has to make a change in her to get back on track.
Writer and director Stéphane Lafleur and cinematographer Sara Mishara paint this all in a lush black and white palette, and it’s amazing to watch on a visual level. There’s only one problem: nothing happens in this movie.
The film has a style that evokes the works of Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach, and in some ways early Jean Luc Godard. Nicole moves through small town Quebec with a certain degree of visual lyricism, but her lack of depth only makes the rural setting more of a character then any of the humans in the film. It charms and there’s a sense of nostalgia, but for what is never certain.
Côté struggles with the eternal debate on whether or not to stay or to go nicely. However, with the exception of one interesting and hilarious character that has to be seen to believed, the story never connects or invites the audience in to understand this world better. It’s just people doing stuff, aimlessly, and boringly
As a formalist exercise, it’s okay, but it’s never entertaining and leaves no lasting impression other than feeling like time has passed by watching the film.