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Review: One Of These Days – “Small on budget but big on characters and story”

One Of These Days centers around a simple premise: a group of ordinary people enter a competition to win a truck, to win they must keep one hand on the truck at all times, last person standing wins. The ease of the game and the fairly life-changing win parallels the hit show Squid Games, although this film was originally going to be released earlier in 2020 (barring the pandemic). It explores similar themes of working-class struggles, isolation and exploitation but is less stylised, keeping itself grounded. The film’s grounded approach is a breath of fresh air among all the superhero and action films, taking place in small-town America and filmed in a steady, leisurely style that brings the film to life.

The film stars Joe Cole (Peaky Blinders, A Prayer Before Dawn, The Ipcress File) as Kyle, following him in the simple but effective endurance test, but it is his co-star Carrie Preston who has an excellent turn as Joan Dempsey who organises the competition. We hear Kyle complain about his car and his need for stable work in a small town in Texas, emphasising his reliance on a car in America, without which it removes his ability to get around and support his family, which is what makes this competition so important to him. Joan on the other hand is keen to build a relationship as her daughter has gone to college and her elderly mother is struggling to be self-reliant; isolated and lonely it becomes clear that the competition to her is a proud achievement rather than an exploitative marketing campaign.

The film dives straight into the competition early on, we’re introduced to the contestants as Kyle meets them, each with their own quirk and trait that keeps them standing out. Luckily director and writer Bastian Günther is able to present these minor characters as whole people rather than caricatures to fill up the screen. As the minutes tick by and the temperature rises so does the tension as one by one they take their hands off the truck. The film feels like it’s going to build a predictable ending but throws in some smart twists before twisting the knife.

One Of These Days has a brilliant first two-thirds as small indie film, small on budget but big on characters and story. The last third will prove divisive, but after sleeping on it I have to respect the decision by Bastian to commit to an ending that explores the struggles and pressures on the working class in America, however bleak that may be. The film may be a more grounded Squid Games, but it is a bit more than that. Only available in cinemas In encourage you to get your ‘hands on’ a ticket.

In cinemas now and on Curzon Home cinema. For more information, please head to https://linktr.ee/StudioSoho

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