Sundance 2023 ‘Sometimes I Think About Dying’ Review: Daisy Ridley Shines in this Quiet Film About Connection

Exploring loneliness and anxiety, 'Sometimes I Think About Dying' delivers a moving story of love and reconnection.

Sundance 2023

The mundanity of life can become so repetitive. The commute to work, the boring office chatter, the buzzing of the ugly fluorescent lights above. To cope with it all, we disconnect, retreating into ourselves, closing off any new possible connection with the outside world. We might even find ourselves staring out the window, wondering what it would feel like to die. Rachel Lambert’s Sometimes I Think About Dying approaches this grim perspective with a warm and comedic attitude. After feeling disconnected for so long, how does one finally reach out once the opportunity presents itself? 

Fran (Daisy Ridley) is the socially anxious, quiet employee of a small office in the quaint Northwestern seaside town she grew up in. Her routine consists of commuting to work, whispering polite words to her co-workers, and eating cottage cheese for dinner. She seems content, albeit sad, with her life. Until Robert (Dave Merheje) joins the office and expresses an interest in her. At first put off by his friendliness, Fran slowly welcomes him into her life. What is initially encouraged by Fran soon becomes a struggle, as she realizes connecting with people requires her to be vulnerable as well. 

Her withdrawal is a result of her clear social anxiety, but her awkwardness could also be the reason she puts others off. Regardless, Fran is alone, whether by choice or by design. Her social separation is illustrated through stark framing in the film. There are many instances where scenes consist of physical barriers — like her cubicle — or visual barriers like the wall, that cut Fran off from everyone else. The lines from the edge of her cubicle run up to meet the corner of a wall, splitting the frame in half with her on one side of it. A shot like one of her back behind the cubicle, while above her desk her co-workers mingle, emphasizes Fran’s disassociation. When Robert enters her life, he crosses those established visual lines while also crossing the emotional boundaries she has set for herself. 

The impact of Fran’s detachment is noticeable in every frame because of the success of these visual devices, as well as the minimalist design. What is felt the most, however, is Daisy Ridley’s quiet performance as Fran. Ridley naturally slips into Fran’s character, embodying every fragment of a person who wishes to go unseen. Her voice rarely carries above a whisper, while her eyes almost never meet anyone else’s. A nervous tick of pressing her fingers to her lips or a hunching of the shoulders are subtle, but create a great effect. A character who appears so vulnerable in our noisy world immediately creates an emotional connection between her and the audience, as well as demonstrates the type of person she is.  

What is exceptional is the way the film balances these elements. Teetering between dark humor and cringe-worthy awkwardness, Sometimes I Think About Dying crafts a quiet love story about connection. Fran’s anxieties make it hard for her to open up, so much so that she spends her free time imagining what it would feel like to die in a myriad of ways. The film carries out these thoughts through whimsical vignettes, depicting Fran’s body staged in different settings. When with Robert, their conversations are sweet, but always on the verge of collapse until Fran whispers something unintentionally funny. Robert’s instant openness is off-putting to her — yet inviting. Over the course of the runtime, we watch these two characters attempt to understand one another, which is at times heartbreaking to witness.  

For the fast-paced, loud, harsh world we exist in, Sometimes I Think About Dying values the quiet. It asks us to step back and look at ourselves and the people around us. When did we lose the ability to truly speak to one another? Rachel Lambert’s deeply human story is successfully affecting. Fran is easy to empathize with, which is in part due to Ridley’s stunning performance. For such a quirky, minimalistic film that could easily be boiled down to just those characteristics by some, Sometimes I Think About Dying offers a candidly emotional film, one that is nothing less than extraordinary. 

Leave a CommentCancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.