Sometimes I Think About Dying: downbeat workplace indie shows another side to Daisy Ridley

Daisy Ridley stars as an introverted Oregon officer worker who has elaborate visions of her own death in this slight, gentle story of a tentative search for human connection.

18 April 2024

By David Katz

Daisy Ridley as Fran in Sometimes I Think About Dying (2023)
Sight and Sound

Daisy Ridley is most famous for wielding a lightsaber, but in Sometimes I Think About Dying, her armament is a frown, the kind that bluntly conveys to others, “just don’t talk to me”. Watching Ridley’s performance as a daydreaming office worker in Rachel Lambert’s film, it’s challenging, at first, to disconnect from her association with Star Wars. The film – on which she’s listed as one of the producers – feels like a self-conscious showcase for a heretofore untapped side of her talent. It’s a downbeat, Sundance-friendly character study – perhaps the perfect place to nestle and recharge before Lucasfilm starts ringing again. 

But in this very environmentally attuned movie, which mimics and absorbs the rhythms of the unassuming Pacific Northwest town where it’s set, Ridley’s character Fran gradually convinces us she’s an unmistakable native (and she has the earth-toned woollen businesswear to prove it). Previous reviewers of this film have been divided when considering whether Fran is seriously troubled by thoughts of suicide, or that her intermittent visions of death (whether by a lightning strike, or a poisonous snakebite) are merely a refuge from her mundane and tidily organised life. However literally we might take them, they attest to all the unruly thoughts we might suppress through a working day as we clock in, clock out and smile.   

There’s something about how Lambert and her cinematographer Dustin Lane capture Ridley’s performance – with long, impressionistic shots of her daily routine, rendered alternately on a wide lens, and then by tight insert angles – that makes her feel present and endearing, even if detail of her motivations and background is scant. The comedian Dave Merheje gives an equally impressive performance as Robert, a friendly, nebbish new colleague at her office who breaks the ice with her in the corridor, then asks her out to the movies via Slack message. Once, it was a folded-up love note; now, a covert DM.  

Lambert achieves some dramatic tension by showing how these two gentle souls – whose behaviours sometimes verge on childlike in their stilted social interaction – strive and then perhaps fail to connect. Despite their shared sensitivity, they seem oddly hamstrung by the subtly wrought etiquette of contemporary dating. Sometimes I Think About Dying is arguably slight, and never beckons too many difficult questions of its subject matter, yet it deftly handles something sensitive, and true: a hard-won argument for living.  

► Sometimes I Think About Dying is in UK cinemas 19 April.