Sometimes I Think About Dying – Sundance 2023

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.

Daisy Ridley returned to Sundance in a starring role in the feature-length adaptation of Sometimes I Think About Dying.

It’s not often that a fellow Louisville native directs the first feature film I watch on the ground during Sundance but here we are. Lambert previously premiered her first narrative feature, In the Radiant City, in Toronto back in 2016. Anyway, Lambert’s newest film–a feature adaptation of Stefanie Abel Horowitz‘s short film–premiered on Sundance’s opening night at the Library. Due to a full house inside the theater, it took a few minutes after starting in order to find a seat.

Set along the coast of Oregon, Fran (Daisy Ridley) spends plenty of time isolated in her cubicle. When she is not eavesdropping on officemates or working in isolation, Fran escapes to daydreams about dying. It’s a small town so there’s really not much else that one can do. After a colleague retires, they bring Robert (Dave Merheje) in to replace her. In another work environment, Robert would probably be hit with a notice from HR. But anyway, the two of them start flirting over the company’s instant messenger platform about how to fill out the request form for business supplies. One thing leads to another and the next thing you know, Robert invites Fran to join him at the local movie theater.

Before we know it, Robert and Fran are hanging out more frequently. As their relationship grows, Fran starts changing her behavior at work. Where she used to be the one who just kept to herself, she’s now bringing in breakfast for her colleagues. Of course, nobody would think it was her because it’s something that is out of her comfort zone! By the end of the film, Fran is no longer thinking about dying but she is living in the moment and looking to connect with others. Even before the closing scenes, the Fran that we see at a party does not even come close to the person we meet at the start of the film. At the end of the day, connection is all that any of us could ask for.

This is a far different role for Daisy Ridley that many of us are used to seeing on the screen. But then again, I would imagine many Star Wars fans didn’t seek out Ridley’s performance in Ophelia. Ridley’s performance displays the highs and lows that come with someone being socially awkward. I’m sure her work in the film will resonate with some of the audience. Anyway, the film is certainly worth checking out even if it ends up being your only viewing of the film.

Sometimes I Think About Dying starts out so dreary so it takes a while for the film to really get going. But when it does, one starts to sense a change in not only Fran’s behavior but in the lighting, too.

DIRECTOR: Rachel Lambert
SCREENWRITERS: Kevin Armento, Stefanie Abel Horowitz & Katy Wright-Mead
CAST: Daisy Ridley, Dave Merheje, Parvesh Cheena, Marcia Debonis, Meg Stalter, Brittany O’Grady

Sometimes I Think About Dying held its world premiere during the 2023 Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. Dramatic Competition. Grade: 3.5/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.