Sometimes Fran imagines herself lying dead in a quiet forest. Sometimes Fran imagines being lifted up, probably by the neck, by a huge crane and dying. Sometimes there’s a big snake or a deserted beach. Sometimes, yes, Fran thinks about dying. And that’s just as well, because Rachel Lambert’s whimsical “Sometimes I Think About Dying” and the complicated woman at its center are thinking about other things, too. good things. Well, he doesn’t die. Maybe even live. For a movie about the lure of death, there’s certainly a lot of life in this understated charmer.
Lambert’s initially mannered style suits the film’s wonderfully funny first act, as we’re introduced to Fran (Daisy Ridley, given the chance to show the kind of nuanced acting that didn’t really have a place in the twists and turns of “Star Wars”), about death. solo dreams and a spectacularly boring life that can make anyone think about too big things. Fran’s days are mostly spent in the sweet, if banal, distant company of her co-workers (not really the people you work with, most with time? and how scary that?). In an office drone at the Port Authority of a small Oregon seaside town, no one seems to notice Fran, except in the way she wants to. Or is he?
Fran flinches when others speak to her, is on the periphery of most gatherings, and seems convinced that she’s not that interesting. But his inner life is certainly fascinating, and when he says he’s “thinking about death,” he sums up the multitude of thoughts that are constantly swirling around in his head. Ridley does a great job with the tiniest of gestures, all the better to point out what Fran is thinking: a tiny head shake here, a too-long blink there, all while taking care of the close-ups. don’t help, but be part of his world.
But Lambert doesn’t skimp on more overt clues about Fran’s life, such as her seemingly nocturnal routine of sipping a glass of wine before even taking off her coat. (The screenplay for the film comes from Kevin Armento, partially adapted from his play “Killers” and Stefanie Abel Horowitz, who directed the original short, and Katy Wright-Mead). Ridley shines even when paired with strong talents like the hilarious Meg Stalter (as a hilarious boss) or the always-emphasized Marcia DeBonis (who never leaves her circle for a day in “13 Going on 30”). here is the brightest. You can’t help but root for him, and that means he can’t help Fran.
The eventual twist that sets Fran, who might not be so interested in suicide, on a new path involves the arrival of a new co-worker, the like right now slightly odd Robert (Dave Merheje), who catches Fran’s interest when, in one of the many painfully funny and terribly honest office meetings, he introduces himself by saying that he likes “uncomfortable silence”. Oh, you too? His dry humor soon spills over into a Slack message with Fran, who sees a kindred spirit, or at least someone she wants to go to the movies with. It’s a big step for Fran, and Lambert treats it with the seriousness and respect it deserves. When we laugh in “Sometimes I Think About Dying,” it’s never at Fran. That’s a great feeling too.
Set in just eight days, Fran and Robert soon go through a series of maybe-dates. But Fran is her own worst enemy, and her constant belief that she’s just not that interesting—even when chatty Robert seems happiest firing off rapid-fire questions about her life—gets in the way of her existence. actually interesting to another person. Still, she regularly steps outside her comfort zone, whether it’s wearing more colors after exclusively sporting muted tones or being the star of a murder mystery party where, yes, she gets to say one of her death fantasies out loud. to others pleasure.
If that sounds like a thin premise, it is, and the film’s somewhat disjointed final act gives way to less humor and scarier sequences, more likely death scenarios, and Fran falling headlong into true depression (literally lying down). on his own living room floor for over 24 hours after a particularly bad interaction with Robert). Yet Lambert’s wry humor and Ridley’s sense of play never fade completely (after her experience on the living room floor, Robert asks Fran what she did for the rest of the weekend, to which she replies, “oh, she went to bed”).
And there’s that deep affection for Fran again: even though we watch her at her lowest point, Lambert stealthily reveals more of her world than a healthy and happy selection of plants to scatter her around. They want to live, and Fran helped them do that. Can you do the same for yourself? The end result may be expected, but that doesn’t mean Ridley and Lambert aren’t doing a winning job to get us there. Life is hard, being human is almost impossible, and sometimes we all need to take the opportunity to think about what’s next.
“Sometimes I Think About Dying” premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Currently looking for distribution.
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