Locke

Review by David Jenkins @daveyjenkins

Directed by

Steven Knight

Starring

Olivia Colman Ruth Wilson Tom Hardy

Anticipation.

Starring Tom Hardy! From the director of Hummingbird…

Enjoyment.

Stunt cinema done right.

In Retrospect.

Hardy’s lead turn proves he’s currently one of the most intense and dramatically flexible performers working today.

Tom Hardy driving a car for 90 minutes equals riveting drama from director Steven Knight.

Have you ever laid in bed at night, pondering what Abbas Kiarostami’s Ten would have been like if instead of actress Mania Akbari driving around Tehran and addressing the inequalities rife in modern Iranian society, we had a grizzled Tom Hardy doing a thick, Richard Burton-style Welsh drawl and unleashing his pent-up ire at Irish concrete farmers directly down the hands-free?

Director Steven Knight’s Locke just about fulfils its remit as a movie, thanks to a stunning, casually restrained central performance from Tom Hardy as Ivan Locke, an ace building site foreman and family man who has to travel to London to attend to a sorry little accident. A pure dialogue piece that comes across as a clever stage play transposed directly to the big screen, the film consists entirely of Hardy coolly traversing conversation strands, attempting to preserve his crumbling marriage and precarious job in the space of an eventful 90-minute evening jaunt.

The dramatic juggling makes Locke feel like a concept episode of Mission: Impossible, in which Hardy’s steely protagonist — by all accounts a “good man”, who’s being severely punished for dropping the ball just this one time — goes to insane lengths to preserve his dignity and self-respect at the expense of just about everything else in his life. In those rare moments where he hasn’t got someone on the line, he barks obscenities at an unseen vision of his abusive father in the back seat, (the film’s weakest element), suggesting that Knight couldn’t rustle up a more subtle way to flesh-out Locke’s tragic childhood.

Other than that, the film’s concept doesn’t get in the way of the central war of words, which, alongside the recent Danish film, A Hijacking, will go down as one of the better works about the psychological nuances of electronic communication. In relation to the concrete-based strand of the story, Knight takes the opportunity to append a neat political dimension to the machinations of the workplace, as our virtuous protagonist is utterly unruffled at the prospect of roping in cash-in-hand immigrant labour to finish the job.

More generally, Locke appears to be about the idea of diplomacy and that, to get our own way in complex and heated debates, it’s sometimes better to grab for a series of tiny wins rather than a single, gigantic smack-down. It’s something of a miracle that Knight manages to protract the material to feature length, though that’s more down to Hardy’s powerhouse presence than the repetitious lattice of lens-flared motorway lights, the latter nothing more than pretty filler. It’s strange that this is being released at the tail-end of 2014 awards season, as Hardy would surely have driven away with a bulging bootful of glimmering silverwear.

Published 18 Apr 2014

Anticipation.

Starring Tom Hardy! From the director of Hummingbird…

Enjoyment.

Stunt cinema done right.

In Retrospect.

Hardy’s lead turn proves he’s currently one of the most intense and dramatically flexible performers working today.

Read More

Taxi Tehran

By Glenn Heath Jr

This lyrical, on-the-fly road movie about the cinematic and poetic value of daily existence is a must see.

review LWLies Recommends

The Revenant

By Adam Woodward

Leonardo DiCaprio feels the wrath of man in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s awesomely violent revenge western.

review LWLies Recommends

Brief Encounter (1945)

By Sophie Monks Kaufman

Rural train platforms were transformed forever by this high peak of screen romance from David Lean.

review LWLies Recommends

What are you looking for?

Little White Lies Logo

About Little White Lies

Little White Lies was established in 2005 as a bi-monthly print magazine committed to championing great movies and the talented people who make them. Combining cutting-edge design, illustration and journalism, LWLies has been described as being “at the vanguard of the independent publishing movement.” Our reviews feature a unique tripartite ranking system that captures the different aspects of the movie-going experience. We believe in Truth & Movies.

Editorial

Design