SXSW 2020 FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW! Have you ever heard of one of those contests where individuals compete to win a new truck by keeping one hand on the vehicle at all times? When there is one person left standing, he or she is declared the winner. Perhaps you saw the 1997 documentary Hands on a Hard Body, which depicted such a contest. A competition like this sounds like harmless, town fair fun, doesn’t it? And it is…until it isn’t.
This is the tenth year that PR rep, Joan Riley (Carrie Preston), has run the “Hands On” contest for Boudreaux’s Auto & Truck. According to the desperately peppy Joan, the competition is always a blast. Townspeople gather in the dealership’s parking lot where there are drinks, music, and games; it’s as though the county fair has come to Boudreaux’s. An assortment of contestants is selected by lottery to compete for this year’s prize: a brand spanking new flatbed truck.
Among the selected contestants are Derek (Evan Henderson), a Jake Gyllenhaal lookalike who isn’t as adherent to the rules as he should be; Ruthie (Lynne Ashe), a devoted churchgoer with Bible in tow so she can read passages while she passes the time; Kevin (Jesse C. Boyd), a cute-but-douchie jerk who does nothing but antagonize the others as a means of defense; but the one who needs the truck the most is Kyle (Joe Cole), a soft-spoken but fiercely focused new husband and father who makes ends meet working at a fast-food joint.
“…the ‘Hands On’ contest proves to be more grueling than perhaps anyone could have anticipated, and one by one, the contestants begin to drop away.”
For Kyle, the truck represents more than simply a way to get from point A to point B. It is an affirmation of his value as a man. The truck is a physical manifestation of Kyle’s worth, as someone to whom his young son can one day grow to admire and revere.
However, the “Hands On” contest proves to be more grueling than perhaps anyone could have anticipated, and one by one, the contestants begin to drop away. Deprived of sleep for days on end with only periodic breaks, some of the remaining contestants find it difficult to remain standing while the sanity of some others begins to unravel.
Inspired by true events, One of These Days is a slow burn of a drama whose narrative escalates to an almost unbearable intensity—all this while featuring one of the blandest and most irrelevant titles in movie history. As fervent as the movie is, it would have made an even stronger impression if the filmmakers had shaved off the last fifteen minutes, which are unnecessary.