Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published August 9th 2014
Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night
Director: Steven Knight (Redemption) Cast: Tom Hardy, Olivia Colman, Ruth Wilson, Andrew Scott
In a time when bigger is deemed better by Hollywood studios it's great to see a film like Locke made, which tells its story with great economy and power. One character inside a car talks on his phone in real time for 85 minutes. It sounds like a gimmick, but to the credit of writer/director Steven Knight and his lead actor Tom Hardy, the film is a uniquely gripping and taut experience.
Within a few minutes and just a few lines we feel we know Ivan Locke. He has a job of great responsibility, he's well respected, he loves his wife and two sons and he is a man of integrity. Unfortunately an error of judgement has caused Locke's world to unravel. A one-night stand with a stranger has resulted in a pregnancy, but while most men would probably try to save their own skin as much as possible, Locke is striving to do what he considers the most honourable thing.
And so it is, as Locke makes the long night time drive to the hospital to be with the woman he scarcely knows, he tries to minimise the impact this has on his wife, his sons, the staff he's just abandoned and the firm who rely on his expertise to carry out a critical part of a skyscraper's construction that very night. Throughout it all Locke stays true to his ethics, owning up to his mistakes while retaining a sense of dignity.
Despite the lack of visual diversity, audiences will be riveted to the screen and willing Locke on to find ways to salvage his crumbling world. Tom Hardy is front and centre throughout and it's hard to imagine many actors having the presence he commands. His intensity is unwavering, whether in moments of raw anger or stark vulnerability, and despite the desperation of his situation, there are moments of disarming humour. It's a finely calibrated performance.
The script too is a work of art, with each line telling us more about the characters and the dynamics of their relationships. It constantly opens up little windows for us to look into while gradually escalating the drama.
Within the physical confines, the cinematography and editing are highly effective, with three cameras rolling simultaneously, and Dickon Hinchliffe's score gives a real sense of Locke's race against time.
Locke is pared-down, powerful storytelling. 85 minutes in a car never went so fast.