Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: Ellen Page And Kate Mara Are 'Tiny Detectives' In Hilarious 'True Detective' Parody Watch: Ellen Page And Kate Mara Are 'Tiny Detectives' In Hilarious 'True Detective' Parody 10 Female Directors Who Deserve More Attention From Hollywood 10 Female Directors Who Deserve More Attention From Hollywood Miles Teller Says Role In 'Divergent' Made Him Feel "Dead Inside," And He Took Movie "For Business Reasons" Miles Teller Says Role In 'Divergent' Made Him Feel "Dead Inside," And He Took Movie "For Business Reasons" First Look At 'The Dying Of The Light,' Paul Schrader Quits Film Over What Nicolas Winding Refn Calls "Artistic Disrespect" First Look At 'The Dying Of The Light,' Paul Schrader Quits Film Over What Nicolas Winding Refn Calls "Artistic Disrespect" New Images From 'Interstellar' Arrive, Christopher Nolan Says The Film Is A "Mirror" Of 'Inception' New Images From 'Interstellar' Arrive, Christopher Nolan Says The Film Is A "Mirror" Of 'Inception' Watch: New Trailer For ‘Kingsman: Secret Service’ Starring Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson & Taron Egerton Star Watch: New Trailer For ‘Kingsman: Secret Service’ Starring Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson & Taron Egerton Star Chilly New Banner For Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Explores A Cold New World Chilly New Banner For Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Explores A Cold New World 15 Films That Failed To Hit The 2014 Fall Festival Circuit 15 Films That Failed To Hit The 2014 Fall Festival Circuit Watch: Steven Soderbergh Re-Scores And Changes Steven Spielberg's 'Raiders Of The Lost Ark' To Black-And-White Watch: Steven Soderbergh Re-Scores And Changes Steven Spielberg's 'Raiders Of The Lost Ark' To Black-And-White Watch: Have A Threesome With Very NSFW Clip From 'Maps To The Stars' With Julianne Moore & John Cusack Watch: Have A Threesome With Very NSFW Clip From 'Maps To The Stars' With Julianne Moore & John Cusack First, Mostly Rave Reviews Arrive For David Fincher's 'Gone Girl' First, Mostly Rave Reviews Arrive For David Fincher's 'Gone Girl' Watch: New Hilarious Red-Band Trailer For 'The Interview' Starring Seth Rogen And James Franco Watch: New Hilarious Red-Band Trailer For 'The Interview' Starring Seth Rogen And James Franco Fantastic Fest Review: Hitman Thriller 'John Wick' Starring Keanu Reeves, Willem Dafoe & Adrianne Palicki Fantastic Fest Review: Hitman Thriller 'John Wick' Starring Keanu Reeves, Willem Dafoe & Adrianne Palicki 'Deadpool’ Spin-Off With Ryan Reynolds Is Finally Green Lit, Set For A Winter 2016 Release Date 'Deadpool’ Spin-Off With Ryan Reynolds Is Finally Green Lit, Set For A Winter 2016 Release Date 10 Films We Haven’t Yet Seen That May Be Serious Oscar Contenders 10 Films We Haven’t Yet Seen That May Be Serious Oscar Contenders The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes

Cannes Review: Stéphane Lafleur's Delightful Québécois Comedy 'Tu Dors Nicole' Is The Hidden Gem Of The Festival

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com May 22, 2014 at 2:32PM

Even more so than the hotly-tipped, much anticipated big-ticket movies, one of the true delights of a film festival is rolling the dice and seeing something you know nothing about. Going to see a picture that's under the radar, that doesn't yet have buzz, and you don't even know the logline for, and could really be anything. Sure, sometimes you'll end up with a borderline unwatchable, relentlessly grim disaster. But sometimes you'll stumble across something wonderful. And so it was a couple of nights ago with "Tu Dors, Nicole" (or "You're Sleeping, Nicole"), the new film from Québécois helmer Stéphane Lafleur, who's directed two previous, relatively little-seen features, but is probably best known as the editor behind 2011's Oscar-nominated "Monsieur Lazhar."
0
Tu Dors Nicole

Even more so than the hotly-tipped, much anticipated big-ticket movies, one of the true delights of a film festival is rolling the dice and seeing something you know nothing about. Going to see a picture that's under the radar, that doesn't yet have buzz, and you don't even know the logline for, and could really be anything. Sure, sometimes you'll end up with a borderline unwatchable, relentlessly grim disaster. But sometimes you'll stumble across something wonderful. And so it was a couple of nights ago with "Tu Dors, Nicole" (or "You're Sleeping, Nicole"), the new film from Québécois helmer Stéphane Lafleur, who's directed two previous, relatively little-seen features, but is probably best known as the editor behind 2011's Oscar-nominated "Monsieur Lazhar." We went in totally blind, barely even remembering the title, and mainly because it happened to be on next at the venue we were already at (it was playing as part of Cannes' Directors Fortnight). And as it turns out, we wouldn't have missed it for the world: it's a comedy that comes across as a sort of French-Canadian take on "Frances Ha," but also stands as its own unique, and equally brilliant, beast.

The titular Nicole (Julianne Cote) is in her early twenties, not all that long out of college, and she's having trouble sleeping. Working in a large charity store, she's looking after her parents' house for the summer, which would be more of a novelty if she didn't live there too. Nevertheless, she's looking forward, with best friend Veronique (Catherine St-Laurent), to taking advantage of having the place to herself. Except that her older brother Remi (Marc-Andre Gronin, from "C.R.A.Z.Y" and "Goon") has the same idea, and has set up shop with his band—expectant father Pat (Francis La Haye) and JF (Simon Larouche), the latest in a long string of drummers—in the hopes of recording a demo. Armed with a new credit card, the girls book a trip to Iceland, and prepare to sit out the summer.

Tu Dors Nicole

It's not the most plot-heavy of films, dancing from skit-like episode to episode, a structure reminiscent of the aforementioned "Frances Ha," a parallel further underlined by the black-and-white photography (if anything the 35mm work here, by photographer Sara Mishara, is even better than in Noah Baumbach's film). There are also echoes of "Ghost World" in the central relationship between the two girls, and of plenty of other indie comedies, but the film never feels derivative, repackaging its elements into something new.

Part of that is down to an absurdist, almost surreal streak closer to Kaurismaki than anything listed above: one stand-out running gag involves Martin (Godefroy Reding), a 10-year-old boy whose voice (lent by Alexis Lefebvre) has broken early, and so now thinks he stands a chance with his former babysitter Nicole as a result. It initially feels like an odd, throwaway joke, but over time becomes more and more crucial, as the wants-to-be-older-than-his-years Martin is set in contrast with Nicole, who's petrified by the concept of adulthood to the extent of insomnia.

The use of Martin is a microcosm for the film as a whole: initially appearing sweet, if slight, before revealing hidden depths. It's hardly the first film to investigate the ennui of post-college twentysomethings, but it's one of the richest. Nicole isn't just listless, she's borderline depressed and kind of self-destructive, a fact that the film only gradually ekes out across Cote's remarkably accomplished performance. Nicole's relationships in the film are expertly captured, from her bond with her brother, highlighting the very particular bond between siblings who are a decade apart, to the starting-to-crumble friendship with Veronique, to her flirtations with JF. This all informs our knowledge of her, and the result is an entirely complete character study of someone we love, but like the other characters, can be frustrated by.

Tu Dors Nicole

This all makes it sound like much heavier going than it actually is, but Lafleur maintains a bouncy, consistently funny tone that you'd describe as featherlight, were there not real weight grounding it all. It's a near-miraculous trick, and evidence of the immense talent on display here: he has a real talent for making comedy work visually, and as you might expect from a former editor, a sense not just for landing a joke, but for creating a unique and distinctive rhythm.

On paper, "Tu Dors Nicole" sounds generic (if I'd known the synopsis going in, I might well have skipped it), but it's executed with such charm and skill in every gorgeous frame that I walked out completely and totally smitten. It's a film that deserves to find an audience much wider than just at Cannes, and rest assured that we'll be keeping a very close eye on what Lafleur is up to down the line. [A]

Browse through all our coverage of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival by clicking here.


This article is related to: Tu Dors Nicole, Stéphane Lafleur, Cannes Directors' Fortnight, Cannes Film Festival, Reviews, Review


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates