Sundance 2023 review: Sometimes I Think About Dying is a delightful ‘sad cup of coffee’

Daisy Ridley in Sometimes I Think About Dying.
Daisy Ridley from Sometimes I Think About Dying. Pic credit: Dustin Lane

Based on a short film, Sometimes I Think About Dying stars Daisy Ridley as an extreme introvert. No longer is she the long-lost character from a galaxy far, far away battling a shirtless Adam Driver. In this movie, she is genuinely closed off and anxious, and she daydreams about death.

This might sound dark, but Sometimes I Think About Dying has a weird, delightful spark to it.

This is a movie that could have been depressing in the wrong hands. However, the result is a surprising romantic comedy unlike any other.

Daisy Ridley plays Fran, a timidly quiet office worker for a small company. She also handles any inventory requests for office supplies.

It’s clear to the audience at the start that her character chose this type of job purposely. She can go to work, hide in her cubicle, and not be bothered unless absolutely necessary.

Fran’s routine is relatable for those who have social anxiety. She avoids most of her coworkers, and most of them seem to avoid her–probably a result of her body language.

A heavenly death dream

One scene those with social anxieties will most likely relate to is when Fran’s coworkers throw a retirement party for a fellow employee. Everyone is laughing and showing comradery with each other. However, Fran stays to the side, seemingly invisible to all. Although she might desire this outcome.

Fran’s bubble begins to pop as a new employee named Robert (Dave Merheje) joins the quiet company. He is the fun-loving coworker most of us would love to have on the job and everyone is drawn to his charming personality. Strangely enough, he begins gravitating toward Fran.

As they say, opposites attract. Robert approaches Fran with a subtle nature charisma, over time drawing Fran with quiet interactions. Fran herself becomes curious about this colorful new coworker.

As the film progresses, Fran becomes lost in a fantasy world of her own. And each time her daydreams are fascinatingly depicted, the audience is drawn into a death trance with her. The scenes are never designed in a morbid or grim manner. We are carried along with Fran’s thoughts, and it is heavenly and sometimes euphoric in concept. Thus, the sequences are demonstrated as such.

Merheje and Ridley share strong chemistry throughout the film. This is a pleasant surprise for the viewer and their polar opposite energies keep it engaging. Furthermore, Merheje is an unconventional leading man, and his casting is entirely welcomed.

The charming leads share a joke together in one scene. Fran says to Robert, “What do you call a sad cup of coffee?” If one thinks about this joke, it perfectly describes the experience of this movie. The joke contains a sad character but the intent of the joke is to give one a humorous, positive feeling. In this way, Sometimes I Think About Dying could aptly be described as a delightful “sad cup of coffee.”

More than anything, audiences will be rocked by Daisy Ridley’s understated performance as Fran. It might sound hyperbolic, but we might be bearing witness to the birth of a new Meryl Streep.

Ridley’s mannerisms and her defensive posture are as if she is guarded within a turtle shell. Her eyes are always overthinking. And everything is communicated understatedly.

Ridley is quite a revelation in this movie, carrying the film with ease as we journey through one introverted moment after the next.

Quite similar to life, our daily existence is ordinary. We wake up, go to work, and have a few nice meals in between, and sometimes crazy things happen. But Sometimes I Think About Dying shows the viewer how significant the mundane can be if we open ourselves up to it. Especially, if we meet the right person.

For example, Robert and Fran experience a movie together. He walks out, saying it might be his new favorite movie. Fran expresses displeasure with the film but does not give a reason why. Over time, as Fran comes out of her shell and is around more people, she switches her take. She says the more she thinks about it, she might like the movie after all.

Metaphorically, this seems to be Fran learning to find joy in her own life, world, and love story. She is slowly embracing her own movie. As far as how the love story ends, well, viewers will have to find out for themselves.

Sometimes I Think About Dying is a delightful “Depresso”

Sometimes I Think About Dying is sincere, sweet, and surprisingly funny. There are darker elements within the film involving thoughts of suicide. But they are handled delicately and authentically.

Daisy Ridley gives a career-turning performance that is heartbreakingly genuine and sprinkled with humor. Just like John Boyega, it is clear she is a proven performer beyond Star Wars.

Sometimes I Think About Dying just wants the viewer to love their own movie. And maybe share a container of popcorn with a loved one while they do.

For more Sundance Film Festival Coverage, read our reviews of Kim’s Video and Slow. Readers can also check out our list of most anticipated films at the festival.

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