It’s a funny premise: a man driving in his car whilst talking on the phone. Sound like an entertaining film? Not really. But when the Film Festival comes to town that’s when you go see the movies that are a bit different from the usual offerings. One such film being Steven Knight’s Locke.
Tom Hardy plays Ivan Locke, the film’s namesake. Suiting, considering that Locke virtually is the entire movie. He’s the only character you see. He’s driving in one direction and he’s uncertain if he’ll be able to return.
Hardy is captivating. Cool, calm and collected, albeit slightly crazy, he drives through the night and negotiates with people on the other end of the phone line. It’s a welcome return to form after his last role, playing Bane in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Night Returns. Sure, he bulked up for the role and acted his part well, but the way Bane was portrayed was plain silly. I attribute this mainly to the fact that Bane was so difficult to understand because of the mask covering his mouth. Unlike Locke, who makes sure that he is clearly heard. Because for this character, so much is riding on how well he makes himself understood during the ensuing phone calls. He drives on, stoically talking his way through his problems when all the odds are against him.
The camerawork is interesting, made up of countless shots of the car, the driver, the traffic and the motorway, much of it blurred, shaky and unfocused. The visual component almost seems unnecessary at times seeing as all none of the character interaction is face to face. It would be interesting to listen to the audio alone to see if the film can be carried by its dialogue. Locke is largely built on the subtleties – the emotion, the pauses and the dynamic pacing of events.
This is Hardy’s film. It’s by no means a blockbuster, but he owns it. Hardy demonstrates his acting abilities through juxtaposed scenes of heated arguments with his character’s boss and tender moments with his family. Try listening to Locke conversing with his youngest son towards the end of the film and not be moved.
Locke is well paced, with enough drama to keep the viewer captivated. There may be no action sequences, but there is enough on the line to keep the viewer on edge. The film is about a man struggling to retain control as he watches his life disintegrate around him while trying desperately to do what he hopes is the ‘right thing’. To elaborate on the plot would be to spoil it, which is why the film may not sound so appealing. But despite how sparse and simple it sounds, Locke contains all the right ingredients for an entertaining ride.