Sometimes I Think About Dying About Living: Review

This review is part of our coverage of the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.

The Pitch: Fran (Daisy Ridley) is not a happy person — but maybe that’s because he doesn’t know what happiness is. As a lonely office drone with an unappealing view of the Oregon coast outside her cubicle, Fran keeps to herself while her officemates try their best to enjoy the their workplace – but when a new co-worker named Robert ( Dave Merheje) joins the team, his friendly nature manages to push Fran out of her shell just enough to maybe live a little harder.

No Jedis Here: If you’re looking for a movie where the characters make long, eloquent speeches about how they feel, Sometimes I Think About Dying is the exact opposite. Director Rachel Lambert’s third film (based on Stefanie Abel Horowitz’s short film) is a deeply immersive experience, where the title hovers over every scene even if its final payoff is minimal and largely unspoken; the effect of the film ends up being entirely dependent on the performance of the de-glammed Ridley.

Given the willful anonymity of his generic office attire, Ridley rises to the challenge with alertness and also a deep well of self-awareness. from The Rise of Skywalker premiered in 2019, the Star Wars Breakout on-screen appearances were limited to the forgotten Doug Liman sci-fi film Chaos Walk and a brief cameo in Judd Apatow’s The Bubbleand here, he was barely able to pick up a letter opener, let alone a lightsaber.

But the vulnerability she shows on screen as Fran is deeply felt and recognizable – she’s not so much lost as she is unsure how to find herself, a journey Lambert chooses not to rush. Fran’s fantasy life can be seen mostly in the form of tableaus that may represent her fantasies of dying, but full of nature and peace – not that she has suicidal thoughts, but that she longs for something other than himself, and the struggle to find it felt insurmountable.

A Victory for Character Actors Everywhere: Merheje, a stand-up previously seen on screen as a series regular on Hulu’s framesfinds just the right way to fit Fran’s carefree character as the two bond outside of work — theirs is a quiet romance, but a heartfelt and nuanced one, with the kind of pent-up longing found in the romances of 18th century.

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