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Locke (2014)

Catching Up on 2014: Josh Reviews Locke

December 29th, 2014
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I am hard at work on assembling my end-of-the-year Best of 2014 lists, and as part of that process, at this time of year I tend to engage in a fun ritual of trying to catch up with as many of that year’s films that I missed but wanted to see that I can.

Locke.cropped

Which brings me to Locke, which I’d been reading about for months and was delighted to finally get a chance to see!  This film, written and directed by Steven Knight (who also wrote the screenplay for Eastern Promises, a great, weird film) has a very compelling and unique structure.  The film features only one actor on screen: Tom Hardy as Ivan Locke.  In the opening minutes of the film, we see Mr. Locke leave his work at a construction site, get into his car, and start driving.  The entire rest of the film takes place while Mr. Locke drives.  We never leave this car with Locke.  The narrative of the film unfolds as Locke makes and receives a series of phone calls.  When Mr. Locke got into his car at the start of the film, he had a job and a happy wife.  Very quickly, both of those things are put into jeopardy, and as Locke makes his drive (to a destination that you need to watch the film to discover) and conducts these phone calls, we watch as he tries, with increasing desperation, to keep his entire life from splintering apart.

The film is worth seeing primarily to witness a tour de force performance by Tom Hardy.  My first introduction to Mr. Hardy was in the abysmal Star Trek: Nemesis, but boy, what an astounding actor he has become.  Mr. Hardy is absolutely riveting in this film.  The film works because of him.  Though we hear other actors’ voices on the phone, it is Mr. Hardy who we are watching, unflinchingly, for an hour and a half.  He commands the audience’s attention.  I love his voice in the film.  I am not sure if this is Mr. Hardy’s natural speaking voice.  I don’t think it is, though I suspect it is closer to his natural accent that some of the other voices he has put on in recent films (The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, The Drop, etc…).  His voice is wonderfully hypnotic here.  Mr. Hardy plays Locke with a quiet gentleness, and it’s impressive in the way that the actor and the character uses his voice to quietly discuss, demand, cajole, plead, and otherwise attempt to successfully bring others around to his point of view.

It’s difficult to imagine how a film in which we are watching the same character in … [continued]