Writer and director Steven Knight (Eastern Promises) takes minimalistic filmmaking to another level with his one man masterpiece Locke. The quintessential action man Tom Hardy proves that he can actually put in an emotional performance with his multifaceted turn as the emotionally practical title character, cementing his ‘one to watch’ status.
The story takes us on a ride-along with foreman Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy), who, on the eve of his biggest concreting contract to date, ditches the project in order to make it to the birth of his child in London. The catch? The soon-to-be mother is not his wife Katrina (voiced by Ruth Wilson), but instead a one night stand with whom he has little to no feelings for, Bethan (voiced by Olivia Colman). On top of this Locke has to deal with the consequences of leaving the job site in the hands of the unqualified Donal (voiced by Andrew Scott). During the course of the trip, Locke breaks the news to his wife of his adultery and impending fatherhood, advises Donal as best he can, and tries to reassure the fragile Bethan that the birth will run smoothly, all the while dealing with the emotional baggage such issues comes with.
First and foremost it must be said that I did not expect Hardy to put in the performance that he did. It’s hard to believe that this is the same guy who played the absolutely crazy Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, has now produced a complex, elegant take on the everyman Locke. The various emotional challenges, and the frustrations that come with it, are played to perfection by Hardy, whose range isn’t limited by the confines of his characters’ BMW. The ‘conversations’ Locke has with his deceased father, who abandoned him as a child, are emotionally wrought and powerful, giving us an insight into what makes Ivan Locke tick. Hardy brings a perfect blend of subtlety and complexity to the performance, ensuring the film doesn’t completely crash and burn.
Although Hardy puts in a stellar performance, it isn’t enough to save the film from reaching some stagnant moments, and there were a few. The whole concept of essentially sitting in the passenger seat, although interesting, left me with moments of boredom. I understand what the film is trying to achieve, and generally speaking it was successful in its attempt. However, there were instances when I was left feeling a little confined by the single setting, and just wanted to get out and stretch my legs a little before hopping back in for the rest of the trip.
Locke is essentially a character study film, and the various nuances Hardy brings to the table will strike a chord with most audiences. And yes, the films setting does limit the excitement level, but Locke manages to slowly and surely tap into issues most adults face today with enough maturity and intrigue to leave a lasting effect.
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