These days, it feels like we’re more connected than ever – whether through Zoom calls, social media or texting and FaceTime, it’s easy to just reach out to anyone at any time. And yet the sense of disconnection is also very real, leaving people longing for connection but not knowing how to get it or what it might entail when it happens. Directed by Rachel Lambert, Sometimes I think about dying tackles this very topic with mixed results. Anchored by strong performances from Daisy Ridley and Dave Merheje, the film has pacing issues, but it’s emotionally resonant, humorous and relatable.
The film follows Fran (Daisy Ridley), an office worker who diligently works from her cubicle every day and watches life as it goes by. She is apparently uninterested in engaging in the everyday conversations of her colleagues and separates herself from them both mentally and physically. Fran often thinks about dying, imagining herself on the forest floor, her dead body covered in vegetation, or being lifted by a crane. Fran seems to continue down this route, a routine she’s grown accustomed to in her quiet life – until Robert (Dave Merheje), a new guy at work, starts interacting with her and brings her hidden desire for connection to the surface.
Sometimes I think about dying starts off pretty slow and takes a while to ramp up. But when it does, the film, written by Kevin Armento, Stefanie Abel Horowitz and Katy Wright-Mead, is a thoughtful look at the need for human connection and what it looks like when it’s awakened for the first time in a long time. . Frans has convinced himself that she is uninteresting, and thus builds a wall around himself. What the film nails is the feelings of being too good for the daily and monotonous interactions with others, while also wanting to feel seen and connected to someone.
This is wonderfully showcased throughout Fran’s time with Robert. She alternates between wanting to hang out with him and being interested in his life to being guarded and afraid to really show herself, perhaps afraid of rejection or being loathed for revealing certain things she’s been keeping to herself. Ridley’s performance speaks to the nuances of Fran’s interaction with Robert. Ridley carries the film and she does a lovely job of bringing the audience into Fran’s mindset through her body language, mannerisms and delivery. Equally wonderful is Merheje as Robert, who is interested in Fran but cautious and hesitant in his interactions with her as he works to understand her. The pair are fantastic together and Merheje’s comic timing brings out the best in their relationship on screen.
Sometimes I think about dying also tackles sadness and loneliness in a way that gives insight into Fran’s world. While there could have been a bit more of an internal exploration of Fran’s feelings, the film combines plenty of lightheartedness and humor with its overall darkness, with Lambert bringing balance to the heavy and long stretches of silence that linger throughout. The film finds its sense of humor in people’s daily routines – from brewing coffee to chatting with colleagues. These moments show the absurdity of life’s details, while also showing how these very actions have a deeper meaning for people trying to reach out to others. in their own way.
If nothing else, Sometimes I think about dying hindered by its slow pace. The film takes its time getting to the core of its story and leans in with too much setup at the start. It doesn’t derail the film, but it does require patience before viewers are rewarded with the beautiful, heartfelt and refreshing story at its core.
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Sometimes I think about dying premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival on January 19. The film is 91 minutes long and has not yet been rated.