You're Sleeping Nicole
Directed by Stéphane LaFleur and Stéphane Lafleur
Starring Julianne Côté, Catherine St-Laurent, Marc-André Grondin, Francis La Haye and Simon Larouche
Making the most of the family home while her parents are away, 22-year-old Nicole is enjoying a peaceful summer with her best friend Véronique. But when Nicole’s older brother shows up with his band to record an album, the girls’ friendship is put to the test.
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★★★★ review by Lise on Letterboxd
tiff2014 film #14
Remember when you had the house all to yourself? You didn't have to party or do anything special, really. Just knowing you were going to have the run of the place lifted some sort of weight off your shoulders, a weight you didn't know existed until that day. All of a sudden you felt free. Free to do everything. Free to do absolutely nothing.
22 year old Nicole has the run of the house when her parents leave for a while. She plans on sharing that freedom with her best friend Véronique. They will probably just hang. Do nothing. Oh sure Nicole was left with a to-do list, but we all know those items are mere suggestions, most of which can be done ten minutes before the parents return. Until then, just hang.
Or so she thought. Seems Nicole's brother also wanted his freedom. When he shows up with his band to lay down some tracks, the doing nothing that Nicole and Véronique had planned takes on a new spin.
Tu Dors Nicole is a lovely small picture that takes its time. It isn't really about much, and yet it is about everything. Director Stéphane Lafleur knows perfectly well what it is like to be 22 and without ambition. He shows it in the details, in the relationships, in the scorching heat, and in the loud drum tracks being recorded. While every nano second seems to count to Nicole's brother who steadfastly refuses to record anything that is less than perfect, time seems to have no influence on Nicole. She glides threw it without resistance, without markers, and without ends.
Tu dors Nicole is the story of her almost having the house to herself and how she negotiates losing some of the freedom she thought she had.
★★★★ review by Mike D'Angelo on Letterboxd
The Dissolve review, which was difficult to write without just turning in a list of all the best moments. One throwaway bit I didn't mention: the WELCOME BACK sign Véro's boss puts up after she's taken one sick day. Never commented on, just seen in the background.
★★★½ review by Jonathan White on Letterboxd
TIFF 2014 film #14
Reason for pick: The Playlist: Cannes Review citing it as a hidden gem.
As a Canadian, you can’t go to TIFF and not see a Canadian film. Sure, there were some obvious choices like Maps to the Stars or Mommy; output from our Superstar Canadian Directors, but, those will come out in time. No, this is the place to un-earth gems. Many of these gems are buried in Quebec, a land of rich cultural heritage and one that supports the arts with a particular passion. Last year we unearthed just such a gem with Sébastien Pilote’s touching and poignant The Auction (Le démantèlement).
Imaged in black and white, at first I thought this might be a disaffected hipster story, and I wasn’t entirely wrong, but, it’s more than that. Monochrome is appropriate for a life adrift, and a summer that slowly slides downhill like losing your footing on a dew covered slope. What I enjoyed most was the way in which the film just seemed to glide purposelessly along, like a lazy summer day. Things would happen; things wouldn’t happen; it was hot and humid; older brothers are always annoying; older brothers have hot friends; you can always count on your BFF; It’s creepy to be hit on by a twelve year old; it’s comforting to take a break and return to your childhood playing cowboys and Indians with a 12 year old; nothing seems to go as planned.
I would have been completely happy if Tu dors Nicole simply stumbled along in its slumber, but Pilote had a payoff in mind, and I felt the third act of the film was there just to serve that purpose; the final shot. For me, it reduced what could have been a gem to simply an entertaining, but still special, piece of cinema.
★★★★ review by Kurdt on Letterboxd
Black-and-white summer. A beautiful languid pace, people stumble around a little lost, it's relaxing tone is intoxicating. I lay there and let the nothingness of a Canadian summer wrap itself around me. Protagonist Nicole walks around her empty neighbourhood at what seems like 2AM, but with the delicate monochrome photography it really could be any time at all. I truly loved how comforting this thing was. It reminded me of old summers been and gone of my own, where there was nothing to do and you'd try and make things happen. Will Nicole go through on that trip to Iceland? What will become of her older brother's band? There's no real plot, just a lot of emptiness to try and pull yourself out of as you stare up at the clear sky through the trees. I'll be coming back to this again and again.
★★★½ review by Vadim Rizov on Letterboxd
"Upon its Cannes premiere and ever since, Stéphane Lafleur’s Tu dors Nicole (You’re Sleeping Nicole) was instantly and endlessly pegged as the Québécois equivalent of Frances Ha. Understandable, given that it’s a black-and-white portrait of two close girlfriends’ extended falling-out as one conspicuously matures while the other flounders aimlessly. Still, Nicole‘s tempered acridness and emphasis on the annoyances of minimum-wage jobs taken upon reluctant entrance to the working world makes Ghost World a closer point of reference. Despite taking place at a post-undergrad time in its characters’ lives, the vibe is similarly very high school (minus the unpleasantness and pain that can come with that terrain): these are young people hanging out together over and over for lack of money or a wider social circle."
The fun part about being my own commissioning editor is that I can just list five things I like about a movie rather than blowing 1.5 paragraphs on synopsis. And if I want to link to a piece on Straub/Huillet for reference I can do that. Anyway, here's what I wrote.
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