Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Locke

Locke is an exercise in film minimalism. Going one better than Vertigo, Drive and Bullitt Locke takes place entirely in the car of Ivan Locke in real time as he drives from the West Midlands to London on a damp winter's night. To provide too much of the plot would be to spoil everything so I'll just give you the set up. Locke is the manager of a building site, who on this particular night, is in charge of preparing the foundations for the concrete pour ("the biggest non military concrete pour in Europe"). The foundation concrete pour we learn is the most crucial part of the construction of any building and a disaster at this stage will cost everyone millions of pounds. Instead of remaining on site to supervise the arrival of dozens of cement lorries from all over England, Locke drives off in his BMW X5 SUV to deal with an entirely different situation. Over the next 85 minutes we watch Tom Hardy as Locke attempt to manage 3 different crises over the phone while also having a Hamlet style conversation with his dead father who abandoned Locke when he was a boy.*
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If all this doesn't sound promising then you probably shouldn't rent Locke but for my money this is one of the best films I've seen in a while. How Tom Hardy didn't get an Oscar nomination is beyond me because his performance is underplayed, focused and utterly compelling. I watched Locke on Saturday night and I spent all of Sunday talking to everyone in a calm South Welsh baritone...You'll probably end up doing the same. Locke has a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It should be higher. Many directors these days feel that to entice people into the cinema you need striking visual images and awe inspiring special effects. In Locke Tom Hardy's beardy face is all we're given and all we need. The close up has been a cinematic tool for over 100 years and wise directors know that humans love looking at other humans, especially humans undergoing extreme emotional turmoil. If you enjoyed The Passion of Joan of Arc or the close ups at the end of The Good The Bad & The Ugly or the work of Kelly Reichardt you'll love Locke...Locke was written and directed by the great Stephen Knight and apart from Hardy it has a stellar cast of other voices that you will definitely recognise. 
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*(Anthony Lane in the New Yorker found this part of the story "hokey" but I thought it was the key to the entire narrative and completely fascinating. Maybe it's a Celtic thing (?) because I'm pretty sure that a high percentage of Irish, Welsh & Scottish men do indeed talk to their dead fathers....)