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Film Review: Locke (2013)
July 17, 2015
Locke is a low-budget, high-concept thriller starring a bearded, Welsh-accented Tom Hardy and a BMW with hands-free phone capabilities. As the titular construction foreman, Ivan Locke, Hardy spends the whole hour and a half drive/movie managing his crumbling work and personal life through placing numerous phone calls to his irate colleagues, distracted family members, and a panicked woman giving birth to his illegitimate child in a London hospital where he is headed. Relying solely on conversation, the viewer must slowly piece together Ivan’s predicament and witness the challenges he must overcome from within his car, away from everyone else and with limited resources. Throughout the Locke, the camera is confined to Ivan’s car and the night road, thus the entire movie hinges on Hardy’s brilliant acting.
Ivan’s disintegration of character and revelation of back story is the main focus of Locke. Apart from his wearied facial expressions and calm, measured way of speaking, characterization is built through the words and reactions of others who repeatedly state that the protagonist is acting out of character. Back story is explicitly shown through a few moving scenes that involve Ivan addressing his dead father, an absent figure who has shaped how Ivan views himself and indirectly causes him to make this crucial journey towards London.
Locke is a rare film that combines fresh and unique storytelling with a singular, restrained performance by the always-impressive Hardy. He handles a number of tasks effortlessly: night driving, reading an ever-changing autocue, making endless phone calls, and sustaining a Welsh accent. Additionally, director and writer Stephen Wright’s focused script, the phenomenal cinematography of Haris Zambarloukos, and an excellent supporting cast of voices—which includes Ruth Wilson (Luther), Olivia Colman (Broadchurch), and Andrew Scott (Sherlock)—help Locke shine even more.