Rachel Lambert’s ‘Sometimes I Think About Dying’ relies on a highly individualistic approach. We see its modest workplace through the central character’s eyes. Daisey Ridley (Star Wars Sequel Trilogy) plays introverted Fran, who isolates herself in a cubicle of her own accord.
The world moves around without taking notice of her. Her colleagues chat about their lives outside the office while she sits silently in front of her computer, delegating tasks efficiently and getting lost in thoughts.
We do not hear even a single word from her for a long time. She stays tucked in the comfort of her desk, engulfed in her duties. You see her eyes noticing all the humdrum interactions between her colleagues. But she never partakes. When they all gather to bid farewell to a senior employee, she stands on the side of a table, playing around with a piece of cake with her spoon.
Besides a lack of interest or connection to this collective activity, you feel as if she is making a conscious effort not to get noticed. While they brim with liveliness, she resists expressing herself outwardly. Meanwhile, in her solitude, she daydreams of escaping this dreariness and of ways to kill herself.
The film presents an immersive experience of Fran’s rich inner world through thoughtful narration. We see how Fran’s way of learning is through the things that she allows to be part of her reality. We derive a sense of affinity with her workplace and her colleagues while the camera practically acts as her eyes.
The narrative opens us up to its humane themes through her minute observations and heartfelt discoveries. We perceive her as an enigma whose perception is limited to her confined world. Whether it is a crane she looks at often through her office window or a piece of cheese that she mentions as her favorite food, these personal details from her life become a gateway to building her emotional landscape.
Death seems like a viable solution to her misery, and she fantasizes about it in vivid detail. The film gives us a surreal glimpse inside her wildly imaginative mind through its particularly bleak moments. She sees herself on a bed of grass where light illuminates but does not invite her.
Even the tiniest things around her seem threatening when she indulges in her ruminations triggered by her hypersensitivity. We witness her journey toward being more accepting of herself and her life.
The film builds her limited world with clear understanding and utmost compassion. Set in a small American town on the Oregon coast, the narrative lends its distance from the hustle-bustle of modernity by the location itself. Despite its insular nature, the script resonates due to Fran’s journey to break out of her bubble.
After being shy by her volition, we see her slowly open up to Robert (Dave Maherje). This new employee quickly becomes a part of her office through his natural friendliness. Initially, he learns little about Fran besides the type of cheese she enjoys. She sits awkwardly through this meeting for the sake of showing her face.
Later, he makes up an excuse to initiate a conversation with her. She faintly smiles due to a sense of acceptance she derives from it. They chat further without bringing it to the attention of their colleagues. She sees him as a way to get out of her isolated shell of comfort. Even if the thought of getting emotionally involved in him initially scares her, she warms up to it.
However, their individual communication patterns become reasons for their conflicts. He shares a bucketload of information about himself without even realizing that he did. On the other side, she struggles to communicate even a casual detail from her life. Adding to her refusal to express herself, her stoic bluntness bothers him.
The script handles these communicational conflicts in a mature manner. Aside from its clever writing, Rachel Lambert’s direction uses the minutiae of sounds during its long winding silences and grey tones. It capitalizes on moments of discomfort to break out into fascinating moments of dark humor.
We see how Fran’s inclination toward death turns her closer to bleak fantasies in her mind. She blurts out these fantasies without realizing their absurdity. A clever mix of her innocence and years of isolation makes these moments charming.
Between the film’s overall restrained storytelling, they seem particularly hilarious due to an inherent unpredictability. Amidst all its storytelling elements, Daisy’s penetrating eyes keep us glued to this dreary worldview.
Dave brings an innocent affability to his performance that perfectly complements her silence. With all their contribution, the film gently navigates an introvert’s journey to a better place while learning to embrace momentary discomforts.