The movie Sometimes I Think About Dying made it’s debut in the US Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival last week. The film stars Daisy Ridley (Star Wars, Murder on the Orient Express) in one of the performances of her career. The official synopsis is as follows:
Lost on the dreary Oregon coast, Fran (Ridley) wastes her daylight hours in the solitude of a cubicle, listening to the constant hum of officemates, occasionally daydreaming to pass the time. She is ghosting through life unable to pop her bubble of isolation. And then Robert (Dave Merheje) starts up at the company. He is new to town and the dynamics of the office. He is a naturally friendly person who keeps trying to chat with Fran. Though it goes against every fiber of her being, she may have to give this guy a chance.
Directed by Rachel Lambert (In the Radiant City). Written by Stefanie Abel Horowitz (Launchpad), Kevin Armento (Spa Day) and Katy Wright-Mead (Stop the Bleeding!). Based on the short film Sometimes, I Think About Dying.
The title of the film, Sometimes I Think About Dying, lets you know the tone but it’s maybe not as depressing a film as you may expect. There are sweet moments and some uplifting moments, as well as plenty of portrayals of depression. It is an accurate portrayal of anxiety and depression, it’s a quiet and restrained film that stays away from dramatics. Fran’s daydreams about dying aren’t graphic, they don’t need to be to portray how she feels.
Daisy Ridley is impressive as Fran, utterly convincing as a depressed woman who doesn’t know how to break out of her patterns of behaviour. She spends much of the first 30 minutes in the movie in silence but still manages to grab the audience’s attention. This is the best performance I have seen Ridley give, an understated yet compelling screen presence.
Dave Merheje (Ramy, Mr. D) also gives a strong performance as Fran’s new co-worker, Robert. Their budding relationship is awkward and sweet, with the pair getting both closer and further apart during the movie. It’s not a straightforward relationship and one that is portrayed well by the two.
Some of Fran’s other co-workers are played by recognisable actors Parvesh Cheena (Shining Vale, Connecting), Marcia DeBonis (Heels, 13 Going on 30) and Megan Stalter (Hacks). The group are all charming enough to make you feel like they’re a close knit group, which makes it understandable that Fran would want to be closer to them.
Sometimes I Think About Dying is beautifully shot by cinematographer Dustin Lane (Still Life, Dayveon). His photography captures the depressing dreariness of Oregon whilst always showing its beauty. Something that correlates with the lead character Fran. The production design by Daniel Maughiman adds to this look with lots of muted colours. Dabney Morris’ (Kevin Can F**k Himself, A Teacher) music is haunting and dreamlike. All elements of the film come together to help the audience feel the emptiness that Fran feels.
Sometimes I Think About Dying isn’t for everyone, it’s a slow burn that is very sedate for much of its runtime. Socially awkward and/or people with depression will be able to relate to Fran and will likely get more out of it than others. It isn’t as linear or predictable as I expected it to be after reading the synopsis. I would highly recommend the film as I think it offers an insight into what socialising is like for so many, especially after the pandemic. It is a surprisingly beautiful film. Sometimes I Think About Dying doesn’t have a release date yet but look out for updates on a distribution method.