One of These Days
Written and Directed by Bastian Günther
What would you do for a new car? As recently as 2005, residents of a small town in Texas would take part in the Hands On competition. Already the subject of the 1997 documentary, Hands on a Hardbody, and the musical, Hands on a Hardbody, that premiered on Broadway in 2013, Gūnther’s film is the first one to look at the reason the competition ended.
Starring The Good Wife’s Carrie Preston and Peaky Blinders’ Joe Cole, there can only be one winner and that’s the person who keeps their hands on the truck the longest. One hand must be on the vehicle at all times. While the contestants are given short breaks, they’re fifteen minutes at most.
Besides the physical toll of going that long without sleep, there’s the psychological toll as well. Anything is bearable when you know when it’s going to end, but Hands On has no cut-off time. This thing will go on for days if there are people still standing, and while it’s one thing to put yourself through that and come out with a truck, most will walk away with nothing. They don’t come back once they’re out either, which is a shame for the movie as much as it makes sense logically.
Gūnther spends a lot of time on Preston’s Joan, who’s orchestrating the event as PR for a local car dealership. As part of the Live Q&A afterwards I was able to ask Gūnther a question about that – What made you want to focus on Carrie Preston’s character instead of forcing viewers to experience the competition with the contestants? – and he talked about meeting the actual “Joan” and wanting to show both sides of the competition – the people running it and the people participating. I still think the film would’ve been stronger if Gūnther had picked one side and stuck to it, but I appreciate that he and the festival took the Q&A virtual.
The 29th Philadelphia Film Fesitval runs from October 23rd to November 2nd. Click here for the full program.