Sundance 2023: ‘Sometimes I Think About Dying’ Review
The following is part of Full Circle Cinema’s coverage of Sundance 2023.
Sometimes I Think About Dying is an eclectic, delicate film that delves into the romantic growth of Fran (Daisy Ridley). The film plays with light and sound to orchestrate the storytelling of Fran’s growth. She starts as someone floating through her daily life to someone interested in the others around her thanks to a new co-worker Robert (Dave Merheje).
The choice to play with images throughout Sometimes I Think About Dying is quite intriguing. The 4:3 aspect ratio makes things feel awkward despite the film’s modern-day setting. The initial lighting in the scenes backs up the aged feel and metamorphoses just like Fran into being more open and bright. Dustin Lane’s cinematography often hides something in the scenes, mirroring Fran once again as she goes from her daydreams to enjoying the company of real-life people.
The screenplay leans thin, especially at the beginning where it takes a while for Fran to open up. But its nuanced take brings to light how much depression and anxiety can really bring a person down. Showcasing the everyday of an office 9-5 generally is less interesting than a storyteller thinks it is. This time, though, the monotonous work is there to be a complement to building Fran and then Robert as characters. Sure, there are some bits that still don’t make sense in the grand scheme of things. But I boiled it down to the fact that sometimes things don’t make sense, especially as one deals with mental health. The deliberate choices are what matter, and that’s what makes Sometimes I Think About Dying special.
Ridley is the perfect person to play Fran. Sometimes I Think About Dying does not have her speak frequently at all, instead relying on the physical portion of acting. It’s something she’s been given a lot of flack for in the Star Wars films, but here, it’s desperately necessary. Without it, Fran would have nothing for the audience to latch on to. Being emotive allows us as the viewer to feel the humming monotones. Within those hums is also the daydreams of, yes, dying. While she never shares that with Robert or her other coworkers, the daydreamed scenes are intense, and it’s what makes them work.
Sometimes I Think About Dying is intensely ordinary. It makes you think heavily because it is in fact something that could happen to you or someone around you. A depressive 9-5 job is something most of us live and breathe, so embracing the main character is easy. Especially right now, dealing with inflation and price gouging, it is very easy to empathize with someone just trying to get by being a person. The team behind this film made a touchy subject into something beautiful. – Katie Rentschler
Sometimes I Think About Dying does not currently have a U.S. release date.