Sometimes I Think About Dying: Star Wars’ Daisy Ridley gets back on her feet again

Daisy Ridley in Sometimes I Think About Dying
Daisy Ridley in Sometimes I Think About Dying

As sales pitches go, the title of this recent Sundance favourite is far from a winner: one ticket for an hour and a half of suicidal ideation, please, plus a raspberry and blackcurrant Tango Ice Blast. Happily, though, it turns out to be something of a missell. For beneath the mousy indie stylings of Rachel Lambert’s new film, adapted from a 2013 play by Kevin Armento, beats a proudly mushy romantic-comedy heart.

Daisy Ridley, back on her feet again after Star Wars, is a (very) low-key revelation as Fran, a cripplingly shy office drone in a soggy Oregon port town, who silently twiddles with spreadsheets by day and keeps herself to herself out of hours.

It’s quietly suggested, though never stated outright, that her epic reserve might stem from undiagnosed depression, which is perhaps what’s also bubbling up in her regular imaginings of far-fetched sticky ends. While gazing out of the window at a crane, she imagines her own body being winched up, as if on a gibbet – while beneath the desk, sunk in the fantasy, her feet leave the ground.

Meanwhile, her colleagues natter away about doughnuts and retirement: to them, Fran is simply “the quiet one”, and their lack of interest in her inner life suits all concerned.

But then in breezes Robert (Dave Merheje), an affable new colleague who takes a shine to Fran and decides to woo her, catching our heroine somewhere between pleasure and panic. Their courtship is exhilaratingly normal: an evening at the cinema; a boozy wink-murder evening with friends; small talk over dessert. But for Fran, it might as well be Fifty Shades of Beige, as she’s beguiled away from her cottage-cheese-based dinners for one and towards a warm, shared world into which she wouldn’t have previously dared intrude.

It’s largely thanks to Ridley’s finely judged performance that this all works quite as well as it does. Her Fran isn’t an enigma or a pity magnet, but a real person you instantly feel you know intimately, despite her habit of holding the world at arm’s length. Sweetening the deal, too, is Lambert’s direction of her supporting cast, who are something you almost never see in the cinema: delightfully ordinary.

Perhaps its secret weapon, though, is the gorgeous score by Dabney Morris, in which plunging harps and swooning strings brush up against more avant-garde boings and plunks. It sounds like a 1950s melodrama that keeps stopping to scratch its head, feeling deeply one moment, then puzzling over the point of the entire business of feeling the next. That’s Fran to a tee – and the point of the film too.

12A cert, 93 mins. In cinemas from Friday