Daisy Ridley appears in a still from Sometimes I Think About Dying by Rachel Lambert, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Dustin Lane
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Sundance Film Festival Review: ‘Sometimes I Think About Dying’ is a Movie You’ll Rarely Think About

The monotony of being an office drone has been mined more than once for cinematic comedy, with even a couple of drama adding to the fray. Now, we have the film Sometimes I Think About Dying chiming in. This mellow character study, mostly a drama but containing some dark comedy, wants to approach things from a different avenue. Unfortunately, in doing so, it forgets to be an interesting movie. Playing at the Sundance Film Festival, it’s the sort of title with almost no appeal outside of the fest.

Sometimes I Think About Dying focuses on comedy, drama, and romance, but doesn’t do any of it well enough to invest you. The lead performance is on point, but it’s in service of such a thin narrative and story, at a certain point, you begin to demand more. That’s when this flick falls completely short, even if there’s a very light charm at times.

Fran (Daisy Ridley) is a wall flower, even among wall flowers. Working in an office where she’s borderline invisible, she has daydreams about various methods of becoming dead. It seems to be her sole focus, besides doing her job well. It’s clear that she has something going on, but what exactly seems fairly elusive.

When co-worker Carol (Marcia DeBonis) retires, Robert (Dave Merheje) is hired to replace her. Almost by accident (or maybe not?), Fran makes him laugh, which piques his interest. Eventually, Robert asks Fran out, beginning the start of a very stilted new relationship. He’s a bit off, but Fran is withdrawn to the point of barely being awake. Can she figure out a way to open herself up more to life, or is this issue just bigger than she can handle?

Daisy Ridley is excellent here, clearly elevating the material. She sees layers that aren’t on the page and is able to, more often than not, effectively translate that to the audience. It’s a shame more doesn’t happen here, because Ridley has really sunk her teeth into things. Dave Merheje is grounded and solid, though not only Ridley’s level, while Marcia DeBonis has one very good scene. Supporting players include Ayanna Berkshire and Parvesh Cheena, among others.

Director Rachel Lambert goes all in on monotony, which is an interesting gamble. Unfortunately, so too does the script by Stefanie Abel Horowitz, Kevin Armento, and Katy Wright-Mead, which doesn’t help matters. Lambert and her writers have expanded upon the short that this film came from, hoping for more emotion, but instead, they just toy with the potential for boredom. About halfway through, things pick up, but never quite to the level that invests you on what’s to come next.

Sometimes I Think About Dying has Ridley, but not much else. While not a bad movie, it’s a forgettable one, which is destined to be buried outside of Park City. If you see it, see it for Ridley. Otherwise, a day at the office will simulate enough of this to make it completely unnecessary.

SCORE: ★★1/2


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Written by Joey Magidson

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