February 5, 2023


Today's News Headlines, Breaking News & Latest News from India and World, News from Politics, Sports, Business, Arts and Entertainment

‘Sometimes I Think About Death’ review: Daisy Ridley’s dreamy indie

4 min read

Most of the time, most people’s lives are pretty boring. Spend the day at the office, then come home and do laundry and microwave dinner. Movies tend to cut out these bits, to focus on the escapist stuff, but every now and then one comes along, looking for mundane poetry. From its confessional title, “Sometimes I Think About Death” reveals that it will be about the inner life of a relatively private person, played by Daisy Ridley, who sits in her cubicle and imagines her corpse hanging from a nearby crane, otherwise her corpse. Rotting on the forest floor.

Who can say what Ridley’s slump-shouldered, scantily clad character, Fran, is thinking when her mind wanders? Director Rachel Lambert (whose subtle, Jeff Nichols-produced feature “In the Radiant City” proved her to be an artist of deep subtlety) doesn’t elaborate on the emotions stirring behind Fran’s eyes, though she does occasionally depict her daydreams, complete. Presenting them as images more than thoughts. These scenes are unexpected, surreal, with a lovely, meditative string score by composer Dabney Morris. Fran doesn’t seem suicidal, but she’s clearly not particularly engaged in life.

The movie puts a movie star where a personality should go, and the debuting void seems like an odd role for Ridley. (“Star Wars” star Stephanie Abel also produced this feature-length adaptation of Horowitz’s 2019 short, which was inspired by Kevin Armento’s play “Killers.”) Ridley approached the character the way Daryl Hannah did the mermaid in “Splash.” “The way Scarlett Johansson portrays the alien in “Under the Skin,” as if she’s uncomfortable being confined to a human body and doesn’t know how to interact with other humans. But this isn’t science fiction. It’s a thin, practically anemic observational movie that For viewers who can identify with Fran’s awkwardness.

For those who don’t, “Sometimes I Think About Dying” gives you plenty of time to think about other things, like organizing your sock drawer, or ranking your favorite episodes of “The Office” (a show that seemed (that it was made by people who worked in an actual office). This movie feels like an exercise in the imagination of people who have never set foot before, who think jokes about staplers and spreadsheets capture the soul-sucking ennui of such a job. But guess what: A lot of people work in offices, and not all of them waste time twiddling their thumbs.

Hollywood (not really Hollywood, but the indie film community) has a rather condescending view of those who spend their days at a desk. Sometimes they get it right, like Alexander Payne’s “About Schmidt” or last year’s “Corner Office,” which featured Jon Hamm as a delusional office drone. Lambert doesn’t seem particularly interested in this kind of workplace, but Fran represents the type of personality: she knows there are people out there who don’t relate. Not to others, not to cinema. Perhaps we’ve all felt this way at times, like there’s something wrong with us, outsiders in any social situation.

Carol (character actor Marcia Debonis, who almost steals this movie from Ridley) finds Frank as a likable colleague ready to retire. Fran can’t think of what to write on the card while walking around the office. When Carol’s party arrives, Fran stands back, takes a piece of cake and disappears – the office wallflower. (In the movie’s final shot, the break room appears to be filled with actual wallflowers, but they hint at something else: a magical realist development that confirms that something has come to life in this painfully shy young woman.)

Before that can happen, Carol’s departure creates an opening, which is immediately filled by a friendly man named Robert (Dave Merhage), who takes an interest in Fran. He tries to make small talk, but Fran hates small talk. He invited her to a movie. Virtually everything makes Fran uncomfortable — a condition Lambert portrays sympathetically, though it can be frustrating for viewers, who are waiting for Fran to snap out of whatever zombie-like funk she’s in. The expression “Will it kill you laughing?” That seems to apply to Ridley’s character, as the movie waits for him to reconnect with the others.

The two or three dates she shares with Robert are charming enough in their low-key way, though watching it all reminds me of an exercise I once gave to a class full of graduate production students. I challenged them to do something that scared them, then take what they learned and turn it into a story idea. One man told me that he worked up the nerve to talk to the stranger sitting next to him on an airplane, and while that didn’t seem brave enough to accomplish the task, it taught me something: Everyone is comfortable with even the most non-threatening social. Doesn’t the interaction “sometimes I think about death” for people who recognize the courage of France’s baby steps towards survival.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *