Sometimes I Think About Dying

Reviewer: Maryam Philpott

Writer and Director: Rachel Lambert

An office romance in the familiarly understated work environment, Rachel Lambert’s 90-minute film Sometimes I Think About Dying relies on its slow burn effect, so slow in fact that its original idea almost fizzles out as Fran and her new colleague Robert start an unlikely romance. There is a really interesting kernel here about the forgotten people in work environments and how many people with active internal lives go unnoticed, but Lambert’s film struggles to retain its momentum when the characters leave the workplace.

On the day that Robert joins the office, he strikes up a connection with facilities administrator Fran who interacts with him over stationery requirements. Emboldened to ask her out the usually lonely Fran is drawn into office life. As their tentative relationships struggles to get off the ground, Fran’s occasional fantasies about her own death continue to plague her but she also welcomes the break from her routine that Robert offers.

Lambert’s film does well to establish the daily activities of Fran’s life, the mundanity of her office job and the poignant lack of interaction with her colleagues. For a long time, it is not even clear whether Fran exists, and while she floats around in the background of conversations and activities, no one acknowledges her presence. The impression of the sadness of her life and the daily grind of soul-destroying meetings and banal chatter with co-workers is well executed, giving the film a really solid basis for exploring shifting dynamics resulting from Robert’s arrival.

Where the films struggles for traction and flow is in the relationship that then emerges between Fran and Robert outside. An initial date is followed by an unexplained silence in the office as Robert ignores Fran although is it never clear why, swiftly moving into a second, more intimate, but equally painful date. The chemistry between the actors is limited which makes it hard to root for them as a couple, and starting a relationship on day one is unlikely for reticent characters or even anyone who wants to finish probation before they commit to an intensive partnership with a total stranger they have to see daily.

More work is needed to establish the reality of the connection between Fran and Robert, spending a little more time on the feeling between them and particularly how a shy woman with few social skills would allow herself to enter so quickly into a partnership, and why the drab existence results in such elaborate impressions of death. The most interesting part of Sometimes I Think About Dying is the office dynamic, and making this a true office romance, delving more into the falsity and consuming nature of this relationship would have made this stronger.

Daisy Ridley does relatively little as Fran beyond a shy introspection that feeds through the body language but Frans’ occasional viciousness and self-destructive approach to conversation is not well enough explained to carry the film. There are darker depths here, but they are under-explored. Dave Merheje is equally mysterious as Robert, quite why he homes in on Fran from the start and persists makes little sense given the lack of encouragement he receives.

An interesting attempt at an office romance staged in a pared back style, Sometimes I Think About Dying should have styed in the workplace where its close observation of human behaviours could come to the fore.

Sometimes I Think About Dying is released in cinemas from 19 April.

The Reviews Hub Score:

Fizzles Out

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The Reviews Hub Film Team is under the editorship of Maryam Philpott.

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