Directed by Steven Knight
Starring Tom Hardy, Ruth Wilson, Andrew Scott and Olivia Coleman
A construction manager’s life slowly falls apart on his drive home from work.
Locke’s titular character is Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy), a Welsh (it takes a while to get past the ‘camp Bane’ accent quickly) construction manager, who’s on the eve of overseeing the largest ever concrete pour outside of a military project. But instead of doing that, he is bound by another duty, and drives off into the night. The entirety of Locke is set within this car journey.
The film’s title is a reference to 17th century English philosopher John Locke. You know, the ‘men are born free but everywhere are in chains’ guy. It’s an apt namesake, as Ivan finds himself trapped by his very mode of freedom – his car.
It’s very high concept, and unique in that there is no impending peril. You think of other single environment, lone character movies – Phonebooth, Buried, Gravity – and how the claustrophobia in integral to its atmosphere. Every frame the film stays within its confines is another ratchet up in tension.
Locke, however, frequently cuts outside the car. There are dissolves and fades with the passing traffic, and overhead shots of the motorway. It effectively portrays the fluidity of Ivan’s wondering, fatigued mind. But it immediately dissolves the tension. It’s no coincidence that the film’s most affecting moment – where Ivan breaks down in tears as his oblivious son talks about a football match – is one where the camera focuses entirely on Hardy’s bearded face. There are no dissolves, fades or cutaways. It is simply a man falling apart. free of editing tricks and camera flairs. And it’s fantastic.
The ambition is admirable, even if the experiment ultimately fails. Locke’s journey is a metaphor of transition, of a man choosing a new path against those that surround him, and in that way his story is epic. But the film, despite its strong script and enthralling central performance from Hardy, fails to take advantage of its own significance.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★