*** (out of 5)
April 25, 2014
Tom Hardy as IVAN LOCKE
Olivia Colman as BETHAN
Ruth Wilson as KATRINA
Andrew Scott as DONAL
Ben Daniels as GARETH
Tom Holland as EDDIE
Directed by: Steven Knight
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Before I became a film critic, I often bemoaned what seemed to be the attitude that many critics had that it was refreshing to see something other than a standard mainstream movie. However, after a dozen years at this job, I fully understand that.
I’m still a huge fan of the mainstream film, and I look forward to the summer blockbusters more than I do the stack of award screeners at the end of the year. However, after spending more than a decade watching anywhere from three to ten new movies a week, I have gained an appreciation for films that think outside of the box.
Writer/director Stephen Knight thinks out of the box by putting the audience in one with the film “Locke.” Almost the entire film takes place in a car with Tom Hardy at the wheel. He plays a character named Ivan Locke, and he’s driving across England to be a the birth of his illegitimate child. While he drives, he shuffles phone calls, including those from his family as he tries to explain himself and those from his work which is ready to fall apart without his supervision.
Locke is a complete character study. Low on action, the movie relies solely on Tom Hardy’s acting, and the story evolves through the conversations we’re privy to. The impressive thing is that Knight manages to tell a full and complete story in one of the most constricted settings I’ve seen on film since Ryan Reynolds held his own in a coffin for 95 in 2010’s “Buried.”
In essence, “Locke” is an experimental film, though the experiment has been tried a few times before. I am reluctant to call this a gimmick because it’s not that. “Locke” works too well to be just a gimmick. Rather, it’s an artistic choice that allows the actor to have full control of the character on screen without having to use things like setting, action, effects or other actors nearby as crutches. What we get is an intimate portrayal of a man’s life as it implodes.
And that is heartbreaking to watch.
“Locke” challenges the audience to plenty of “What if?” scenarios. We ask ourselves what we would do were we in Locke’s situation, and we also toy with the idea of how we could let ourselves actually get there.
I don’t necessarily want to see every movie released to be this focused of a character study, and I don’t want to see other filmmakers imitate what succeeds here. That’s not why Knight made this film. Instead, it serves as a keen diversion from much of the mainstream films that are filling the multiplex as we move into the warmer months.
Take a chance on “Locke” and see something different that works outside of the box.