There is a moment at the beginning Sometimes I think about dyingthe lively dark comedy, which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, is perhaps the most incisive portrayal of depression ever brought to the screen.

After returning home from her monotonous office job, quiet accountant Fran (an amazing Daisy Ridley) slathers a boatload of cottage cheese onto a microwaveable protein sheet designed to look like a Salisbury steak. This is what we would call a “depression meal,” like the random accumulation of things in your kitchen that you throw together and eat standing up. Contemplating your body lying lifeless in a quiet forest is optional — but often the two are a package deal.

Sundance is the first opportunity in a new year that stars need to come out swinging. In just a few days, actors have the chance to impress judges, critics and audiences enough to keep their names on everyone’s lips for maybe a year.

We’ve already seen a handful of big, bold turns at Sundance this year – Mia Goth in her darkest work yet; Anne Hathaway in full thriller mode; Jonathan Majors as DeNiro in a role that will earn him his first Oscar nomination. But it’s Ridley’s quiet, calm performance that I couldn’t stop thinking about. Her name may be buried under the many headlines from this year’s festival, but that’s okay too. Her performance is not just that of an underdog; It’s one that will completely change the world’s perception of her.

Sometimes I think about dying understands that our unintentionally fiercest intrusive thoughts often happen by accident. We’ve all been waiting for the light to change at a crosswalk, wondering what would happen if we got off too early. Or we’ve looked over a ledge and tried to conjure up the sensation of falling through the air for a brief moment. It’s dark, of course, but it’s downright human. Our dissociative state pushes us to consider the worst, even when we don’t necessarily want to.

Same goes for Fran. She doesn’t want she only thinks about dying sometimes. Every now and then she looks out the window next to her desk and thinks about being picked up by the crane working outside. Or she imagines a snake slowly snaking behind her to complete the deed without her knowing it. There is no notion of intention, but something to think about outside of the sense of everyday ordinariness.

Despite the somber nature of its premise, Sometimes I think about dying is surprisingly life-affirming. When Fran’s office routine is shattered by the arrival of a new colleague, the film documents her journey out of her comfort zone with thoughtful care. But it’s Daisy Ridley’s sweet, gentle performance that gives this film about contemplation of death its glorious vitality.

Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images

When viewers first meet Fran, she walks into her office on the rainy Oregon coast, dressed in a simple and practical down coat. Fran settles into her cubicle and looks forward to losing herself in something she understands: spreadsheets. Fran likes puzzles and numbers; She is more stimulated by frolicking in her own brain than by conversation. But just because she’s isolated doesn’t mean she’s not paying attention. Fran’s favorite office hobby is using her reserved nature to eavesdrop on her colleagues’ conversations.

When her new co-worker Robert (David Merheje) starts work, he quickly catches Fran’s attention and manages to strike up a tongue-in-cheek humorous Slack conversation. Suddenly we understand: It’s not that she doesn’t want to talk to her colleagues, she just doesn’t know exactly how.

Ridley, a warm-hearted and charismatic actress who helped bring life to the third chapter of the expansive film war of stars Franchise, unexpectedly slips straight into Fran’s department. Her physicality is understood from the first frames of the film. Fran’s shoulders are hunched against her desk as she works, hand in front of her face to calm herself; her head stays down as she moves from the office kitchen back to her chair; she only turns her head, not her whole body. Ridley has the mannerisms of someone who doesn’t want to be seen down and wears them as tight to the chin as Fran’s simple turtlenecks.

Ridley’s movements are so well executed that when Fran is invited to a film by Robert, even the slightest difference in body language is remarkably noticeable. It’s also painfully relatable. Like all of us, Fran longs – sometimes unknowingly – to be seen. She grew up in a quiet home, in an even quieter town. Her interests are at odds with those of her colleagues, who are the only ones Fran deals with on a regular basis. And while she’s content with the meager life she’s landed in, she doesn’t shy away from the opportunity to share it with someone else. Ridley’s eyes light up with a gleam, her shoulders sag just a little, and Fran agrees to go out.

As the film progresses, Fran keeps surprising herself. She almost swallows the Irish coffee order to accompany her and Robert’s post-film piece of cake. She spends time at her desk wondering if Robert will return her Slack message or if she offended him too much by telling him she didn’t like the film. Robert, who is caring and kind, assures her that she has done nothing wrong. The spark of a connection isn’t always based on mutual interests, but rather on a propensity to see the beauty that the other person sees in the things they love most. Robert wants to know these things about Fran, but the cloud of her depression makes it difficult for him to look inside.

Sometimes I think about dying is no sob story, and its actors never let its characters become melodramatic and archetypal. The film makes no blanket untruths; Robert cannot and cannot “fix” Fran and vice versa. They see each other as two parts of a greater whole, just speck in a vast universe that will never bring them answers, only an inevitable end. The liveliest beauty of Sometimes I think about dying watches Fran and Robert figure out if they want to spend some time together before that point comes.

Taking a silent indie film like this to wonderful heights is no small feat, but Ridley’s charming Fran is so fully understood that when the credits roll, Sometimes I think about dying sits right next to your heart. Ridley has never been more wonderful, and the film is a testament to her talents outside of the splashy franchise that’s made her a household name. war of stars Fans fell in love with her character Rey because of Ridley’s unique ability to display breathtaking vulnerability as a feisty hero. In her first starring role since this chapter ended, she does the same on a much smaller, more realistic scale.

Ridley saves Fran from becoming a one-dimensional caricature too sparse to feel as human as it should. She doesn’t ask us to get out of our shells, but nods to the viewer in understanding. In Ridley’s skillful hands, Fran becomes a mirror. That powerful and powerful feeling that Fran desires – the one that comes only from someone else seeing it – is offered to us. Ridley’s ability to take our expectations of her performance in a whole new direction is a rare gift that not every actor is capable of.

Audiences will leave most films at Sundance when they see a character. With Ridley in front of the camera, they see themselves. Daisy Ridley in “Sometimes I Think About Dying” at Sundance: Acting Tour de Force