Sundance Review: Fragile Yet Fierce, Daisy Ridley Delivers Something Moving in Sometimes I Think About Dying

When somebody describes a film as a “Sundance movie,” my mind tends to envision works like director Rachel Lambert’s Sometimes I Think About Dying, a comedic and melancholic film a self-isolated woman named Fran (Daisy Ridley) who lives on the Oregon coast but tends to spend her days indoors, either in the solitude of her work station or in her small, sparsely furnished home. At work, she listens to the friendly banter of her co-workers but rarely engages with them as she fulfills office supply requests and whatever else she's responsible for. Sometimes she drifts into daydreaming, but even that isn’t nearly as fulfilling as it is revealing.

One day, shortly after a person in the office retires, the outgoing and friendly Robert (Dave Merheje) starts working at the company and is drawn to Fran, perhaps because she doesn’t seem to respond to his usually charming personality (which doesn’t mean she isn’t interested in him as well; she is just better at hiding it). He invites her to a movie that they end up completely disagreeing on; they have an awkward dinner; he even invites her to a small gathering of his friends for a type of game night, one it turns out she’s very good at playing. With Ridley giving a note-perfect performance, there is something about Fran that is both fragile and fiercely strong. 

Fran does not believe she needs to be paired up with anyone to have a worthwhile life, but she’s also desperately lonely (as the film’s title would lead you to believe). This is not a movie about a woman contemplating suicide, but for Fran, it’s vital that she exist (and perhaps even pair up) on her own terms, and I found that sentiment bold and lovely, as the film unexpectedly sideswiped me into appreciating its quiet strength. Not a great deal actually happens in Sometimes I Think About Dying, but because it takes the time to give value to those who live simple, quiet lives, I found it heartening.

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Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a frequent contributor at /Film (SlashFilm.com) and Backstory Magazine. He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.