There does not seem a lot to be going on for Fran, in fact life is so boring that death may be the only thing left. Fran (a phenomenal Daisy Ridley) may not come across as suicidal, but most of her daydreaming involves lying dead in the middle of the forest or even being picked up by a construction crane to lead her to in her inventible demise. But even with all her thoughts about death, wants to live and maybe even live a larger life. SOMETIMES I THINK ABOUT DYING, the latest film from Rachel Lambert may be focused on death, but it is a real charmer full of life.

Fran like many of us spends her days at a job that feels mundane and endless. The script never gives us a full insight into what Fran’s job is but we do know that she is in a small local office in Oregon where her coworkers enjoy small leisure talk about weekend plans, staplers, and of course breakroom food. Fran however does not participate, much like the endless piles of paperwork left on the desks, Fran goes unnoticed. However one of the more kinder elements of Lambert’s script is that Fran is never seen as the “office weirdo”, in fact her co-workers which include a cast of Parvesh Cheena, Megan Statler, and Brittany O’ Grady) greet her with kind smiles and hellos even when Fran is too anxious to deliver one back. Fran however is very observant, when her one of her co-workers, Carol (Marcia DeBonis) is on her last day before retirement, Fran remembers all the times Carol struggled day by day at this job all to end it with a cake and card. Is this what awaits Fran? To some viewers it will become apparent that even the worst days at work will remind you of the friendships you make at your job, others will see it as we work and then we die. Both are right, and Fran sees it all. But when a new member comes into the office Fran may get a new chance to start things differently. Robert (Dave Merheje) is a a beam of light to the office. He is excited to meet everyone and easily reaches out to Fran, after all they both discovered they like cottage cheese. It isn’t long until Robert asks Fran to hang out for a movie and even though Fran continues to believe she isn’t interesting enough to be around she reluctantly agrees.

Lambert’s film wonderfully follows Fran and Robert’s new friendship over the next several days with delightful awkwardness that comes off charming and never weird. Robert loves movies but Fran has no problem telling him she doesn’t care for the movie they see on their first date much to Robert’s surprise. He loves her honesty nonetheless, and loves it even more when Fran doesn’t hesitate to order an Irish coffee at the local diner. Daisy Ridley as Fran is a triumph and a huge step forward for the young actress. Ridley who is most famous for (and will most likely always be remembered for) Rey in the last Star Wars trilogy was always a strong talent. Regardless of your preconceived thoughts on the films, Ridley was always a standout hindered by lightsabers and behind the scenes studio drama. Here Ridley gets to do some heavy lifting even when she barely speaks a word. Ridley is one of the few today who is a genius with eye acting. Every glance, or anytime she dodges her eyes to the floor says a thousand words about Fran and Ridley has it down pat.

SOMETIMES I THINK ABOUT DYING may feel like the usual Sundance indie, but it might have the greatest hat trick of them all this year. It is one of the few films of the festival that truly stays with you days and now weeks later. Its heart isn’t worn on its sleeve, but rather its earned through allowing both the character and the audience to open themselves up to more honest and carefree living. Fran may seem like every person in the background, but maybe she is the one who has it right all along. A person who when they feel comfortable enough to speak their mind changes others perception and always surprises. A great scene involving a murder mystery game allows Fran to show off her talents for coming up with creative kills. When she describes how she was poisoned with acid in great detail she isn’t met with disgust by the other party members, but rather applause on her creativity. It is a heartwarming moment and a reminder that those worth being around will always welcome your uniqueness. Finding our people or even opening up a little more may not change every painful feeling but it’s a great place to start. Fran may be on a new path for the first time in her life, but Lambert and the film never want us to forget that she never had to change who she was to get there. In anything we had to find our own way to be more life Fran, something we should try to do everyday.



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