Director: Steven Knight
Screenplay: Steven Knight
Cast: Tom Hardy, Olivia Coleman, Ruth Wilson, Andrew Scott, Ben Daniels, Tom Holland, Bill Milner, Danny Webb, Alice Lowe, Silas Carson, Lee Ross and Kirsty Dillon.
Prior to watching Locke, Steven Knight was not a name I was at all familiar with at all. Now after watching this film which is an outstanding piece of character-driven film, Eastern Promises and Dirty Pretty Things have climbed to the top of my “Stuff which must be watched ASAP” list. This film for me is a good example of having low expectations and then having the immense joy of watching a top quality film whose quality took you completely and utterly by surprise and this makes the film seem even better.
Ivan locke (Tom Hardy) over his life has steadily built the life he had always wanted for himself: a loving, devoted family with a successful career as a construction manager. However on the eve of the biggest challenge of his career his life which he has worked so hard to build is under threat and threatens to fall a part and crumble in a single night, a single car journey.
Locke is set in one night and in one location, his car. I’m a huge advocate of films using the cover of darkness frequently in their films. It focuses your concentration, you must give your complete attention to see the little details on a character’s face, to see past the shadows. The consequence of this being a more immersive experience for us the viewer. Furthermore I’m a strong supporter of films being set in one location and in Locke’s case that being his car, the reason I enjoy the single setting is that it creates a sense of intimacy with the viewer. Additionally is forces the script to place more emphasis on developing the plot and characters and this can only be a good thing. For example whilst watching Locke I felt as if I was inside the car along with Locke, feeling every emotion he felt, every frustrating moment, every heartbreaking moment. To further support the idea that a single setting can help make a film great here are some famous examples, ones which I have personally enjoyed: Rear Window, Clerks, Twelve Angry Men, The Breakfast Club and Reservoir Dogs.
The plot of this film is told through a series of phone calls through Locke’s hands free phone system in his car and I found this to be a refreshing and interesting plot device, to see how Locke’s life teeters closer and closer to the edge of destruction with each phone call to a variety of different people. That doesn’t mean the intervals between phone calls are meaningless and boring, far from it. It is from these intervals that we see the impact each phone call on Locke. Whether it be conveyed through his face, eyes or hand gestures, it’s interesting to see how each phone call takes a toll on Locke emotionally and how his desperation rises as he tries to fix his imploding life from the constraints of his car. Steven Knight does not disappoint with the script, it’s simply a superb script with lines that just sound epic “Do it for the air we are about to displace, do it for the piece of sky we are going to steal… Do it for the fucking concrete!” and other lines which feel as though they have a significant hidden meaning waiting to be deciphered. Throughout the film Locke consistently states “The traffic’s ok” over and over again and I’ve taken this to be an attempt to not only reassure himself but reassure those he his speaking to that everything’s going to be ok, everything is going to work out in the end. I have to give extra praise to the ending, I’m not going to give details don’t worry but I thought I could see the ending coming from a mile away and I was so pleased with the ending we are given as it was true to the character we are presented with.
This is probably one of Hardy’s finest and most challenging performances, to not be able to use movement to act is a challenge indeed but Hardy pulls it off without difficultly giving us a captivating performance to boot, effectively showing us a wide array of emotions: guilt, regret etc. Hardy is supported by a strong cast with Ruth Wilson of the incredible tv show Luther, Andrew Scott who gave a magnificent portrayal of Moriarty in Sherlock and Olivia Coleman who continues to rise in popularity with appearances in Tyrannosaur, Peep Show and Broadchurch. These supporting performances only add to the abundance of quality the film already has.
This is one of the best car journeys you’ll ever experience and thankfully with no danger of car sickness. This film is easily one of the best of 2014 and shows the versatility and skill of Tom Hardy. This is a film I would wholeheartedly recommend to everyone.