Sometimes I Think About Dying is a story about Fran, who has a pretty routine life. Work, eat, and sleep. She also has thoughts about dying. When she makes the new guy at the work laugh, the casual and awkward interactions lead to dating and more. The only thing standing in the way of moving life forward is Fran herself.

But there’s more to meets the eye in this film. Within the first few minutes of the film, one might feel a sense of nostalgia as we continue to adjust to our new routines post-pandemic.  If you’re someone who likes to look for an unexpected nugget, you might find this film to have many layers that might unravel a string of emotions.

The lead character, Fran, played by Daisy Ridley may be draw to this film. You may recognize the English actress in her breakthrough role as Rey in the 2015 film Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Director Rachel Lambert tells us she really didn’t see anyone else playing this role. “Obviously I knew her work and was very much in awe of her as a technician and as an artist,” said Lambert.

Lambert explained that Ridley had liked a film of hers that came out in 2017. She also knew that the actress would often include her on the list of filmmakers she was interested in working with.  She would get the scripts sent over for directorial consideration.  “I found that to be a great way to learn her taste and learn what she was drawn to.”

This included complicated, complex characters Ridley was drawn to and it Lambert tells us she developed this other view of her through those years of just reading what Ridley was attracted to.

“I also learned she really loved strong writing. I was really banking on her saying yes and she did. She was the only person I could think of that would be right for this role,” said Lambert.

What’s beautiful and thoughtful is how this storyline unfolds without having to explain everything to the audience. Intentionally the film does inspire the audience to think beyond and truly experience the film.

“I think rigour, composition and grammar means you don’t have to explain things,” said Lambert. “Explanation is a complete poison and can kill what you’re doing. It erodes the opportunity for the audience to create their own thoughts. To me, if you’re telling people all this information, explaining everything, and walking through every beat they can turn their brain off. You’re not inviting them to do any work, you’re not inviting them to lean in and put themselves in it or to interpret. That’s not an interactive experience.”

Lambert believes art lives in that interaction between the speaker and the listener. It’s about giving space to the listener to participate. “I owe a debt to the audience to ensure that every piece and every choice. Whether it’s a choice to offer freedom to the cast or the choice to compose an image that is so rigorous, they are completely thought through. When they are put together they are exquisite in meaning. So, if I want that interaction from the audience I want to make sure that I’m doing that on my end of the equation,” said Lambert.

Nostalgic in Feel:

Filming took place in the Pacific North West in a coastal town where Fran works at the Port Authority office. But not only the setting that is nostalgic in feel, even the film’s musical score mirrors that sense of longing.

“Classical filmmaking was definitely an intention,” said Lambert. “The director, composer, editor, director of photography, we were all people that have known each other for a long time. We come from the same part of the country and started cutting our teeth on this type of work around the same time and place. We have a lot of root structures in common and that created a wonderful and collaborative nest for a lot of the decisions that really created the organizing principles on this film. We looked at a lot of Hollywood when we were thinking about the filmmaking style, grammar, and even the frame. We even had vibes pumping in the car when we were driving around looking at beauty.” 

Lambert tells us they would have Hawaiian ballads playing from the fifties in the car including an album called Mr. Lucky that was used a lot for inspiration. So, they already had a good sense of direction on how they wanted the film’s score to work when it came time to shoot.

About Human Connections…

With the film coming out post pandemic lockdown, I also had a feeling of melancholy over missing everyday human connections and meaningful conversations. Dave Merheje, who plays Fran’s potential love interest, Robert, tells us if the film inspires those desires to connect and converse that is great.

To ask questions and savour the moments when you’ve connect someone is what we need more of these days especially since we are constantly staring into our devices. And when a film gives us even a glimpse of how heartwarming that can be — well, that really hit home for me. 

He agreed. “I think you should make eye contact and ask how people are doing. When someone asks ‘how are you doing?’ Don’t keep to yourself . Sometimes alone time is good but I think expressing your vulnerabilty and having empathy for people is really important now, and just be kind. We should be more kind,” said Merheje.

Sometimes I Think About Dying is now  in select theatres across Canada.

Directed by Rachel Lambert

Stars: Daisy Ridley, Dave Merheje, Parish Cheena