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Review: Sometimes I Think About Dying – “A showcase for the power and simplicity of indie filmmaking”

In a world…where attention spans are fleeting and content is competing, a nice snappy title can help filmmakers with the heavy lifting. Sometimes I Think About Dying is the perfect expression of this sweet, thoughtful and funny movie.

In a tiny cubicle in a tiny office on the Oregon coast, Fran (Daisy Ridley) ekes out a modest existence. She is deliberately apart from society, thriving on the hum of co-worker conversation without wanting to partake in it. Fran also frequently daydreams, and those dreams take a darker tone. Fran’s bubble of isolation is pierced when a co-worker leaves and her replacement, Robert (Dave Merheje) tries to connect.

Sometimes I Think About Dying plays with tragi-comedy throughout, expertly observed by director Rachel Lambert. Lambert pierces the membrane between sadness and laughter with clever shot choices and a great script. Fran and Robert navigate a burgeoning relationship between introvert and extrovert without either character ever resorting to trope. And the torturous weight of Fran’s inner life is made clear, which helps the jokes hit all the harder. Ridley nails the deadpan reactions and lack of awareness of neurodivergence, making her performance the fulcrum of this movie.

Ridley’s career is fascinating, with a star less ascendant and more plunged into public consciousness outside of her control. She has used her post Star-Wars status to make interesting choices and some really weird films. Nonetheless, there is a stoicism that directors associate with Ridley that is well used here, especially when paired with her knack for observational comedy. Outward implacability and inner turmoil require a deft relationship between actress, director and cinematographer. Ridley is tasked here with some difficult choices. Fran is not beguiling, she’s unconcerned about appearance or external validation and can be rude, but Sometimes… never wavers in empathising with her.

Although Fran is an island, Ridley is not, supported by a wonderful list of character actors. These players pepper the screen with such realistic office minutiae it feels like some forgotten outpost of Dunder Mifflin. Meg Stalter, Parvesh Cheena, and Bree Elrod are wonderful in their roles. And Merheje plays breezy and sociable Robert with ease. He’s a great foil to Fran, while also wrestling with his own inner demons.

Sometimes I Think About Dying is a great title and an equally great watch. As a showcase for the power and simplicity of indie filmmaking, it’s hard to beat.

In cinemas now.

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