At Cineworld cinemas, there is an event going on where, every Thursday, they do screenings of films that have previously been shown. Today, they screened Locke, a film I had been intending to watch but never got round to it when it was first released. I was really intrigued over how a film set entirely in a car can work, especially in the context of a thriller (as the trailers promised). Well this is a case where the trailers sold a completely different film, this is a character study, not a thriller, and a really good one at that.
The plot concerns Ivan Locke, a construction foreman driving from Birmingham to London due to him fathering a son in a one-night-stand with a co-worker and him feeling obligated to be present at the birth. Throughout the journey, he receives phone calls from the mother, Bethan, his wife and children over both the one-night-stand and a football match going on at the same time, and from his co-workers over a major part of the construction project in Birmingham due to take place the following day (by the way, since I am at university in Birmingham at the time of writing this review, it did make me chuckle a bit hearing about the road closures at Church Road and The Vale, considering the high level of road closures around here over the past year) with all of this taking place in real time. All of this really grabs your attention with the minimalist aesthetic meaning that there is very little to distract from the plot and the conversations Locke has with the other characters in the film with these conversations being written so well that you feel heavily invested by everything that is going on.
This is aided by a standout performance by Tom Hardy. He brings across this great sense of professionalism and control over everything that is going on, being obsessed with the minor details and ensuring that everything goes correctly and, over the course of the film, Hardy shows the growing anger and despair felt by Locke over how much he has ruined his life. If the performance wasn’t good then the entire film would fail but Hardy is incredible here doing a really downplayed, subtle performance. It also helps that he works really well with the other actors who interact with him over the phone, with some quite funny moments coming from Andrew Scott as co-worker Donal and really powerful moments coming from his interactions with Ruth Wilson as Locke’s wife Katrina. A lot of elements of the character also come through with the interactions with Olivia Colman as Bethan, with these showing that Locke doesn’t really have any feelings for Bethan, even though she is about to give birth to his son but he feels he owes it to the child to at least see his face since he only met his dad when he was an adult, shedding a lot of light over why Locke is willing to throw his life away for this.
The direction and the cinematography in the film help give it a fully cinematic feel, despite the film being an hour and a half of Tom Hardy driving on the motorway, with the use of light from both the street lamps and other cars adding a great deal of atmosphere to the film that fully absorbs you into the experience.
Locke is a very interesting film. This could have gone so badly wrong but the strong writing and directing by Steven Knight, along with the incredible performance from Tom Hardy, make this an incredibly engaging and very cinematic endeavour.
My Rating: 4.5/5