Sundance Film Festival 2023: ‘Sometimes I Think About Dying’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

For many, life can seem pointless or empty or dull. Some are waiting until something good happens to them. Others are ambitious and get what they want, while others watch time pass them by until it’s all over. Waiting can make anyone turn inside themselves and forget to live. People can feel insignificant or even uninteresting to the point where they think about a world where they don’t exist; would anyone care if they were gone? Sadly, some people feel alone and think they have no one to turn to. They create a barrier between them and anyone who tries to break down the walls to let some light in. They feel comfortable on their own and forget how to be with others because they may be going through their issues. Sometimes I Think About Dying, directed by Rachel Lambert, is a heartbreaking, sorrowful exploration of loneliness, social anxiety, and learning how to live again. 

From the opening of this film, Lambert sets the tone by establishing the early morning landscape in a small town. Fran (Daisy Ridley) wakes up, goes to work, and sits in her cubicle all day. The aspect ratio being 4:3 also compliments the space used as a room with four walls. So with a few technical components, the viewer is already in Fran’s head, sitting at the desk with her. For those who have worked in an office space, one can relate to the bland and uninteresting aspects of sitting at your desk day in and day out. And yes, your mind does start to wander. But in Fran’s case, she thinks about ways to die. Fran is detached from everyone in the office and keeps to herself. The score is almost dreamlike as it accompanies the dull moments of office life, and her so-called uninteresting life. It counters dark thoughts and creates a sense of hopefulness. 

When Robert (Dave Merheje) steps into the office as a new hire, Fran’s world is turned upside down. And that glimmer of faith in humanity is restored. Robert takes a liking to Fran. It’s an extrovert pulling the introvert out of their shell little by little. Merheje and Ridley have wonderful chemistry, even though Ridley is playing a rigid and more reserved character. Through Lambert’s direction, effective editing and sound design, we get to see how social anxiety feels through Fran. The film feels so quiet and intimate in the office setting that it may feel like nothing happens, but the characters keep you invested. Ridley’s performance is heart-wrenching, and the third act is when we appreciate the writing by Kevin Armento, Stefanie Abel Horowitz and Katy Wright-Mead. Towards the end of the film, there are conversations about relationships and waiting for the right time that hit you emotionally. Lambert expresses that if you wait too long to do something, life will pass you by and take those years away. 

Sometimes I Think About Dying has a bland and uninteresting office space with a community of people who try their best every day. Fran does keep to herself but also wants to be included. Her severe social anxiety keeps her from ever interacting with any of them unless it’s strictly about office supplies. No matter how dark life can get, there is always that shred of hope that can keep anyone going. Even though it feels so empty and isolated, there’s this relatability to Fran’s character that many can resonate with. The co-writers and director Rachel Lambert crafted a film that balances a bleak outlook on life and the warmth of letting other people in. There’s a mixture of feelings addressed tenderly by Lambert. It’s because she subtly shows whom Fran is without her saying a word. Even though there’s this closed-off individual, there is still a feeling of belonging to a community that is present throughout.