Review by Sean Boelman
Ever since the Star Wars sequel trilogy concluded, Daisy Ridley has been looking for a film to headline to adequately showcase her talent. The comedy-drama Sometimes I Think About Dying gets a good performance out of her, but it is in spite of a script that strains to find a meaning in its premise.
The movie follows a shy woman working in an office where she feels like she doesn’t belong, as she sparks an interest in the new guy, causing her to rethink her opinion on the mundanity of life. Based on the short film of the same name, the movie really struggles to find enough momentum to sustain even ninety minutes of runtime.
There’s an air of awkwardness to the whole affair — enough to make viewers feel uncomfortable, but not enough to be humorous. The script tries to split the difference between deadpan and realism, and as a result, it ends up feeling rather off-putting. It really needed to either go more exaggerated or more low-key to be effective.
Throughout the movie, there are also brief flashes of existentialism — those alluded to by the title — in the form of daydreams experienced by Ridley’s character. However, these moments don’t really leave much of an impact, nor do they cohere together into a particularly interesting exploration of the themes.
What we are left with instead is a relatively average satire of the mundanity of office life. Given how much media has done this in the past, and much more effectively, it’s disappointing that the movie refuses to add anything new to the conversation. There’s nothing particularly disagreeable about the film, but it also doesn’t feel like anything that needs to be seen.
The romance at the core of the movie is admirably cute, and provides for a few moments that will crack a smile on the face of most viewers. However, the protagonist feels so detached from the life she lives that we, as the audience, will become detached from her. As a result, we often end up siding with her love interest over her, which was clearly not the intention.
Daisy Ridley’s performance is solid, as she manages to capture the adorably weird quality that is necessary to pull the role off. However, given that the role is largely deadpan and emotionless, she doesn’t show much in the way of range. Supporting actor Dave Merheje is arguably more interesting, getting more of the film’s funny moments than its star.
Many viewers will likely seek out Sometimes I Think About Dying exclusively on the account of Daisy Ridley’s performance, and she’s good enough to deserve it. However, the movie does feel like it’s missing something to make the satire truly click.
Sometimes I Think About Dying is playing at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, which runs January 19-29 in-person in Park City, UT and January 24-29 online.