Film Review: Sometimes I Think About Dying (Sundance 2023) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Sometimes I Think About Dying

Studio: CAA
Director: Rachel Lambert

Jan 28, 2023 Web Exclusive
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Sometimes I Think About Dying is a heartwarming yet somewhat clichéd look at a lonely person learning to open up to those around them.

Set in a sleepy Oregon town, the film centers around Fran (Daisy Ridley), a woman stuck in an unexciting routine. Her days are spent either at the office, where she shies away from her coworkers and their empty water cooler conversations, or at her house, where she passes the time in silence, playing sudoku or eating her favorite food, cottage cheese. From the film’s opening act, it is clear that Fran gets by and is somewhat content with her life as it is now, not feeling the desire, or need, to associate herself with others.

Fran’s routine is quickly interrupted when a new coworker, Robert (Dave Merheje), joins her office team. Robert’s quirky attitude, zest for life and radiant positivity make him an instant hit at the office, always taking the time to listen to everyone else’s stories and problems. Hoping to get to know a bit more about Fran, Robert begins to send her Slack messages. What starts as cold responses transitions into lighter discussions and, eventually, full conversations as the two spend more time with one another outside of the office. As Fran begins thinking more about Robert, she begins to get out of her comfort zone, altering her routine to, for the first time in a very long time, let someone new into her life.

With a simple premise and a 90-minute runtime, it is clear that director Rachel Lambert knows exactly how she wants to tell this story. The film’s direction and style are simple, relying on repeated sequences and drab backgrounds to reinforce the mundane nature of Fran’s daily routine. Additionally, none of the characters–not even Fran herself–are bogged down by their backstories. While the audience does learn about their pasts as the film goes on–particularly, Robert’s past–these facts are often tossed aside to focus on Fran’s journey of self-acceptance and accepting others.

These elements exemplify both why the film works and why it doesn’t. By throwing audiences directly into Fran’s present-day life and continuing from there, Lambert wastes no time hypothesizing on the complex reasons that led Fran to her current emotional state. This decision reinforces the fact there’s not always a clear-cut reason for why people can feel lonely, a reality that many similar films toss aside to create drama and an emotionally wrenching narrative. At the same time, though, not knowing enough about the characters makes them feel too simple and too easily influenced by the direction of the film’s narrative. This becomes an issue during the film’s final act, where the story takes bigger turns that, because of its rushed nature, feels completely manufactured and inconclusive.

Regardless of this setback, Sometimes I Think About Dying still works, particularly because of Ridley’s stellar, deceptively simple performance. Fran is a quiet character who displays her emotions using physical expressions, not dialogue. Ridley understands this idea perfectly, making Fran feel realistic even when the film’s script has trouble doing that and, as a result, making the story worth investing in. (festival.sundance.org)

Author rating: 6/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10



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