“She dies tomorrow”, or does she?
Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil) is gripped by the overwhelming certainty that she will die tomorrow. Jane (Jane Adams) tries to put her down, but Jane leaves feeling like she’s on her last day too. When she sees her brother, Jason (Chris Messina), the sentiment spreads to him too.
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This sort of contagious immediate mortality could mean something else to the viewer. It doesn’t look like we’re dealing with a truly deadly pandemic and Seimetz is definitely leaving it to the beholder. The film also covers more than one day, so “tomorrow” is loose. There are flashbacks, so the timeline gets complicated, but it’s still more than a day.
Amy Seimetz provides various reactions to the impending death
The provocative joy of She dies tomorrow is how each character and actor interprets the feeling of death. Sheil’s body language walking around the house, standing outside in the open air at night, is a kind of interpretive dance except that it is not performative. She’s still a behaving lonely person at home.
Each character ruminates on their impending death a little differently and shows their feelings in their body language. Where Amy is secluded, Jane becomes needy and clingy, and also shares everyone’s darkest thoughts. Jason is married to Susan (Katie Aselton) and therefore has a different reaction that incorporates his own immediate family.
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Seimetz also gives visual and auditory cues to the spread of this feeling. Each character faces blue and red strobe lights, which can be a lot to take for the viewer. An oppressive buzz also spreads to each character.
What does “She dies tomorrow” mean? Amy Seimetz won’t say it.
Well, it is surely the point of an abstract art film not to give concrete answers to the viewer. You could take it literally and see history as a group of people being forced to reassess their lives at the last moment. It would be moving and convincing.
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You could also see “death” as a transition, or the end of something significant, or a rebirth, or just an uncertainty that anyone might have on major or minor issues. Seimetz leaves room for the viewer to bring their own baggage to the characters, but achieves with a confident visual style. The camera lingers on each character with their thoughts, until they visually and audibly break them down for the viewer.
She dies tomorrow is also as intense as it sounds. The downside, maybe, is that people are already so stressed that they don’t crave more anxiety. The advantage could be that people are already so anxious that they are ready to think She dies tomorrow. If it sounds like an interesting experience from the description above, Seimetz, Sheil, Adams, Messina, and many more are offering a provocative art film for these times.