She Dies Tomorrow

***1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

She Dies Tomorrow
"Beautifully observed conversations explore the trivial ways in which people opt to waste their lives, but without condemnation."

You are going to die.

That might sound obvious. In a different context, it might sound like a threat. But how immediate does it feel? Unless you're elderly, live in a war zone, have a serious illness or similar, the chances are that it's something you don't really think about - an event vaguely located somewhere in the future and not deserving of your attention today. That's how Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil) feels about it, until one day she wakes up convinced that she has less than 36 hours to live.

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How seriously should we take this idea? Nothing will shake Amy's faith. Her friend Jane is sympathetic, for the most part, but noncommittal. It gradually emerges that there are good reasons why she might hesitate to go along with Amy's ideas. Writer/director Amy Seimetz has another trick up her sleeve, however. A short while later, following her protests, Jane develops the same conviction about her own death; and when she goes to a party, she has the same effect on other people. Whatever has happened to Amy, it's contagious.

Not a great deal actually happens in Seimetz's film. It doesn't need to. Her focus is on exploring the psychological dynamics of the situation and our relationship with mortality more generally. This is played out almost in passing through a series of scenes in which everybody would prefer to discuss other things - "It's my birthday and I want to talk about dolphin fucking," as one character puts it. Nobody we meet is wholly likeable and the heightened awareness that Amy's belief brings to their interactions means they increasingly become aware of this about one another. Patience frays, relationships come under strain and bitter truths are spoken; but there's a feeling that, if they survive, these people will feel more alive than they did to begin with.

There's humour here, hidden under the surface. Amy has just bought a house after years of people telling her that she should. Now she doesn't really know what it's for. Is this what it means to be an adult, and has that brought her closer to death? Beautifully observed conversations explore the trivial ways in which people opt to waste their lives, but without condemnation - although there's quite a bit of meanness on display, there's a sense that Seimetz is not without affection for her characters, and the natural performances add to the strangeness of the situation in which they find themselves.

With intermittently surreal lighting effects which illustrate the mental state of the characters after the conviction takes hold, the film invites the viewer to speculate on whether or not there could be something real behind it. Are these people infected? Have they caught a glimpse of something terrible just over the horizon?

Have they simply realised how vulnerable they are?



Blue Finch Film Releasing presents She Dies Tomorrow on Curzon Home Cinema, BFI Player and Digital Download 28 August

Reviewed on: 07 Aug 2020
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She Dies Tomorrow packshot
Amy thinks she's dying tomorrow...and it's contagious.

Director: Amy Seimetz

Writer: Amy Seimetz

Starring: Kate Lyn Sheil, Jane Adams, Josh Lucas, Michelle Rodriguez

Year: 2020

Runtime: 84 minutes

Country: US

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