Sunday, April 27, 2014

Review: Locke

Image courtesy of A24.
Steven Knight has written some wonderful screenplays, including Stephen Frears' "Dirty Pretty Things" and David Cronenberg's "Eastern Promises," so it's fitting that his directorial debut "Locke," one of two films he directed last year that are being released this year, is primarily dialogue-driven.

In the film, Tom Hardy plays Ivan Locke, a construction manager and family man, whose life crashes down in real-time over the course of an hour-and-a-half as he drives to be present for the birth of his child, who was conceived during a one night stand with a woman he hardly knows.

The picture is mostly set in Locke's car as he drives, holding conversations with the woman, who is in a "fragile" state as we are told, and his wife, to whom he breaks the unpleasant news. All the while, Locke is attempting to work out the details for the concrete pouring of a massive, multi-million dollar building for which he is supposed to be present the following morning. This includes dealing with his boss, who is furious that Locke won't be there to conduct the pouring, and a co-worker who will now be in charge, but who is presently three sheets to the wind.

For a movie about a man on his phone in the car, "Locke" manages to squeeze in a decent amount of tension. And the picture mostly works due to Hardy's committed performance. Locke is a man who has clearly made mistakes, but Hardy makes him sympathetic, despite his flaws.

The biggest stumbling block of the film is that Locke's issues are resolved - which is not to say solved - during the film's brief 85 minutes, perhaps a bit too conveniently. I'm not giving anything away by relaying this information. The problem is that the weighty dramas with which the character is dealing are too complex to be wrapped up, no matter whether it's positively or negatively, in that amount of time.

Despite this, the film is often a tense experience, especially as Hardy's character continuously looks away from the road during his discussions. I kept waiting for the man to crash his car. Knight is a terrific writer and he clearly has talent behind the camera. "Locke" is a good movie, but I believe something even better could be in store for the filmmaker down the road.

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