One Of These Days Review

One Of These Days
Joan (Carrie Preston) hosts an annual endurance test out of a car dealership in small-town Texas in which 20 ballot-winners compete to see who can keep a hand on a pickup truck the longest, with the winner walking away with the keys. Family man Kyle (Joe Cole) is amongst the competitors.

by Sophie Monks Kaufman |
Published on
Release Date:

01 Apr 2022

Original Title:

One Of These Days

A chicken is forced to dance on a hot plate at the end of Werner Herzog’s Stroszek. It’s an absurdly bleak finale in an American Dream takedown so despairing that it makes sense that Joy Division’s Ian Curtis watched it before dying by suicide. The same furious hopelessness is reached for in Bastian Günther’s less-than-effective, ripped-from-the-headlines drama pivoting around what poor people will suffer for the sake of a new truck.

One Of These Days

An unnamed small town near the Texas/Louisiana border is depicted as the whole world to occupants whose odd traditions thrive unchallenged. Wide plains are captured by director of photography Michael Kotschi with a scope that convincingly portrays how essential vehicles are to everyday life here. Fast-food worker Kyle (Joe Cole) is over the moon when his name is drawn to compete in the annual ‘Hands On’ competition, as his motor is faulty and he has a young wife and baby to support.

Once underway, the curiosity value of the competition runs out fast due to a frustrating lack of focus on individual stakes.

Carrie Preston’s Joan is afforded a bright little prologue, as she pootles around town hyping the contest and getting dumped by her “fuck-buddy”. Once underway, the curiosity value of the competition runs out fast due to a frustrating lack of focus on individual stakes. Twenty people trapped in a single location should be a gift to a director but this opportunity for tension is frittered away as participants menace, needle and annoy each other with the broad dialogue of an unoriginal comic skit.

As sleep-deprivation and psychological disturbance kick in for participants, there is a hallucinogenic quality to moments that stress the perversity of the test. One participant keels over, another shuffles off into the night crying. In a gleeful highlight, a devout woman vomits on her bible. These promising vignettes threaten to add up, but sadly do not, and a lengthy final flashback tests the audience’s own endurance.

Günther executes stray powerful moments, but his lack of a handle on the material leads to two hours so meandering that the story drifts away in a haze of boredom.
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