By Angelo Muredda

Slight as it is, next to the garrulous shoutiness of much of its Canadian brethren at the festival, Stéphane Lafleur’s Tu dors Nicole feels like a minor oasis. Nicely lensed in minimalist black and white by the filmmaker’s usual collaborator (and Bernard Émond vet) Sara Mishara, the film follows the post-grad ambles of the eponymous Nicole (Julianne Côté), a twentysomething gamine whose only real goal is to save enough money for a trip to Iceland. Beyond that, she isn’t up to much, dividing her days between bored bicycle tours through the neighbourhood and prolonged bouts of lazing around her parents’ home, her routine only slightly jarred by the arrival of her older brother Remy (Marc-André Grondin) and his unambitious but noisy rock band, including handsome new drummer JF (Francis La Haye).

Côté has the right sort of sleepy-eyed charisma to hold our attention through Lafleur’s conspicuously lengthy takes, which run just long enough for us to notice some surreal detail on the periphery of the frame—an animated painting, a bike where bikes shouldn’t be—that underscores the dreaminess of the title. Her bone-dry presence is also a good anchor for the film’s less successful flirtations with a certain strand of indie tweeness that would otherwise be more trying, grounding in reality the harpsichord interludes that are presumably meant to illuminate Nicole’s inner life. Though she’s ultimately the second star after her director—who, from the tidy visual design to the odd soundscape, creates an almost annoyingly hermetic world—it’s Côté that lets the whole thing breathe.