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‘Sometimes I Think About Dying’ Review: Life, in Drab Gray

‘Sometimes I Think About Dying’ Review: Life, in Drab Gray


Fran thinks about dying, however not gruesomely. Her psychological tableaux of dying look as in the event that they had been staged by the artist Gregory Crewdson. Sometimes her physique is draped dramatically over driftwood on a serene seashore or posed in a foggy forest on a tender inexperienced mattress of moss. She imagines standing alone in a nondescript completed workplace basement as a large snake slithers by. She imagines dying, primarily, as peace within the midst of ever-changing nature.

Her actuality is much less superbly hued. By day, Fran (Daisy Ridley) dons drab enterprise informal and works within the form of area that makes the environs of “The Office” appear to be a magical wonderland. A small group of individuals carry out clerical duties to maintain the native port of their tiny Pacific Northwest city working easily, and spend most of their time on crushingly banal chatter. Why is that this cruise ship docked in such a approach that it blocks the views of the mountains? Where are the mugs?

By evening, Fran’s life isn’t rather more attention-grabbing, however at the very least she’s in charge of it. She goes house, pours a glass of wine and takes an extended, restorative sip, then reheats some sort of insipid patty and eats it with a facet of cottage cheese. Sudoku, brush enamel, mattress, repeat. It looks like she’s starring in her personal one-woman play, one the place all different individuals are background noise — her mom’s telephone name goes to voice mail — and no one is watching.

“Sometimes I Think About Dying,” directed by Rachel Lambert, comes by its theatricality naturally; it’s based mostly, partially, on the play “Killers” by Kevin Armento. (The different credited writers are Stefanie Abel Horowitz and Katy Wright-Mead, the latter of whose credit embrace “Boardwalk Empire” and “The Knick.”) The play entwined the story of a younger lady who thinks about dying with a secondary story a few younger lady obsessive about killing, and although I haven’t seen it, I assume which means its themes had been very totally different. But onscreen, “Sometimes I Think About Dying” can do what it may by no means do as simply onstage: We float out and in of Fran’s thoughts, coming into her temper, her lethargy, her fixations on the again of individuals’s heads or their mouths whereas they converse. We begin to turn into just a little bit Fran.

Perhaps one of the best time period for Fran’s persistent temper is acedia, that feeling of not caring a lot about something, particularly one’s place on the planet. (Ancient monks known as it the “noonday demon.”) It’s usually equated with melancholy, however there’s a specific torpor provoked by a soul-sucking workplace that may convey it on. Many a brand new faculty graduate has found, shortly, {that a} 9-to-5 job can turn into insufferable even when the work itself is straightforward, nice and well-paid. Something in regards to the prospect of eternal sameness can sap the need to stay.

Fran’s co-workers appear to have compensated by growing tacky chipper mannerisms within the workplace, or wealthy lives outdoors of them. It’s the latter that draws Fran to Richard (Dave Merheje), the brand new man, a self-declared film obsessive who takes the place of beloved Carol (Marcia DeBonis) after she retires and heads out on a long-awaited cruise along with her husband. Richard takes a liking to mousy Fran, who quietly declares of their team-building train that her favourite meals is cottage cheese. He invitations her to a film that night. She hates it. He loves it. And Fran, fascinated by this man who likes issues, begins to think about a distinct sort of life.

“Sometimes I Think About Dying” premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, the place “Eileen” additionally made its debut, and there’s a placing similarity between the lady at every film’s heart. They’re each lonely and remoted whereas within the midst of individuals; they’re each irritating to these round them; they’re each liable to imagining issues which may scandalize others; and so they’ve each discovered a measure of aid in a bottle. In different phrases, they’re each — dreaded phrases — unlikable, a sort of lady that’s cropped up so much in cinema these days, from the ladies of “May December” to Lydia Tár.

But distinctive from Eileen, Fran may be very relatable. We don’t know why Fran is the best way she is, or a lot of something about her, however we all know that she finds many issues, in her phrases, “not attention-grabbing,” together with herself. We get the sense that her isolation stems from assuming others could be bored by her if they really knew something about her. When Robert asks her what she likes to do, she says she cooks generally. “What do you wish to prepare dinner?” he asks. “Different issues,” she replies.

A film like this one, reserved and just a little mysterious, might be unnerving. Occasionally it feels as if “Sometimes I Think About Dying” is a bit too withholding, dragging down the story it has to inform. But there’s so much right here to love. It’s by no means fully clear, till late within the movie, what Fran is considering, or whether or not she’s really as clean a slate as she presents herself to be. Ridley’s efficiency is affectless and deadpan, till it isn’t. (There’s multiple cause I assumed whereas watching the movie of Aki Kaurismaki’s “Fallen Leaves.”) The second of emotional revelation comes as a begin.

But motion pictures that go away you just a little confused, leaning in and projecting your self onto the characters, are sometimes one of the best ones, and the cinema of drudgery can interact that impulse like few others. “Sometimes I Think About Dying” isn’t as masterful as “Jeanne Dielman” or “The Assistant,” however there’s a familiarity to the best way it renders on a regular basis life: as a cell, during which a girl has stripped herself of alternative and chance with the intention to survive.

At the tip of the movie, Fran encounters her former co-worker Carol, whose life has not gone as deliberate. “Every day I stand up and I see the day on the market and I get my coffee and I sit right here and I believe, all proper. All proper. This is what I’ve proper now,” Carol tells Fran. “And regardless of how significantly better no matter I think about in my head is, it’s not as actual as what I do have. So — it’s laborious, isn’t it? Being an individual?”

Fran watches her throughout the desk and nods, one thing blooming in her thoughts. Carol, too, had her fantasies. So perhaps excited about dying — or something — is how we escape a fallow existence. But perhaps contemporary life blooms solely whenever you’re prepared to get your palms soiled.

Sometimes I Think About Dying
Rated PG-13 for suicidal ideation, form of, and mature themes. Running time: 1 hour 31 minutes. In theaters.

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