This psychological drama from German director Bastian Günther is predicated on a real-life occasion. A 1997 documentary by SR Bindler called Hands on a Hardbody was in regards to the annual sleep-deprivation endurance contest run by an East Texas auto dealership, the place 24 folks compete to win a brand-new Nissan Hardbody pickup truck by retaining a minimum of one hand on it for the longest steady time. They’re allowed transient hourly breaks however can not sleep, or lean their weight in opposition to the car, and in the event that they take their arms off it for any purpose, they’re out.
US pageant audiences discovered one thing sympathetic and humorous about these stoic hopefuls and there was even a stage musical model with a contented ending. Robert Altman was apparently creating a function model simply earlier than he died, although reportedly envisioning one thing darker, like They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? Günther’s movie is definitely no Broadway musical although he has created an ingenious, if far-fetched narrative twist, a contrivance whose problems he can’t fairly take in into the script. However that is audaciously structured with a sombre coda sequence positioned after the top of the competition.
Günther invents two key characters: Carrie Preston performs Joan, who runs the dealership PR and is a lonely divorcee on the web relationship circuit. British actor Joe Cole performs Kyle, a competitor who’s an unemployed native man with a spouse and child daughter; he’s determined for money and taking this contest far too critically. Günther lets us savour the strangeness of this spectacle: a circle of people that look as if they’re worshipping a sacred object, a laying-on-of-hands ritual within the church of capitalism or a secular seance to name up the spirit of the American dream. In addition they appear like a gaggle of individuals beneath arrest, retaining their arms on the automotive the place the cops can see them. As folks faint or stagger away, Kyle faces-off with an obnoxious man taking part in nasty mind-games which might be even creepier than we suspect; after 4 or 5 days with out sleep, Kyle fears (with good purpose) that he’s dropping his sanity and enters a harmful new psychological state.
This can be a watchable movie, however one which by some means doesn’t enable you a lot entry to the rivals’ minds. As they change into increasingly more catatonic, the movie does too. Günther offers Kyle goals or hallucinatory reveries, however nothing so lenient as an illustrative flashback, apart from the one which closes the movie after it’s all too late. We all know from the movie’s antecedents that bleakness shouldn’t be the one method of telling this story, neither is it essentially essentially the most truthful one. But Günther offers us his personal model with conviction.