“Sometimes I Think About Dying”

I really love “Sometimes I Think About Dying,” director Rachel Lambert‘s low-key, melancholy character piece about a socially awkward woman who has an unmet desire for human connection. The unhurried pacing and measured storytelling may be challenging for some viewers, but this little film that seems to be about nothing is actually rooted in depth and has a keen understanding of what it feels like to suffer with crippling social awkwardness.

Living in a small coastal town on the dreary Oregon coast, Fran (Daisy Ridley) spends much of her time alone and often daydreams about dying. She works at a drab office and quietly observes her more outgoing coworkers as they chat with each other and go about their daily routines. She describes herself as “not very interesting,” is quiet and reserved, isn’t very sociable, has no friends, and mostly keeps to herself. This shyness is often mistaken for aloofness, and most everyone steers clear of any interactions with her. Things change when the friendly and slightly awkward Robert (Dave Merheje) starts a job at the company, and he takes an interest in Fran. She’s afraid to give friendship a chance, but there’s something different about him that may just make Robert the first person whom she allows to really get to know her.

There isn’t a whole lot of plot, but Lambert manages to keep her film compelling. Her storytelling style is highly detailed, which gives a warmth to the bleak tone. Nothing feels forced. Lambert paints a dreary portrait of humanity, but does so with wit, style, charm, and humor. There’s so much subtlety in what’s left unspoken, and the film shows us Fran’s professional and personal life, but never tells us what to feel.

The film is well cast from top to bottom, including Parvesh Cheena, Marcia DeBonis, and Megan Stalter, who add a lot of amusement as Fran’s office mates, and Merheje and Ridley feel charmingly authentic. Right down to her body language, from avoiding eye contact to a slouched posture when her character is feeling uncomfortable, Ridley wholly embodies what it must feel like to be Fran. It’s a skilled, effective performance, and one with few spoken words.

It may sound like a hard sell to sit through a movie that’s focused on a lead character who suffers from severe social anxiety, but “Sometimes I Think About Dying” is a good, simple story that’s told well. It’s a captivating film that gracefully expresses the need for human connection while being unable to rid yourself of debilitating melancholia.

By: Louisa Moore

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