Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Posted: Wed Sep 4 2013
British screenwriter Steven Knight has always had a keen eye for the real but has tended to lay on the plot a bit thick in his scripts for ‘Dirty Pretty Things’, ‘Eastern Promises’ and his recent debut as a writer-director, ‘Hummingbird’, which saw Jason Statham as an unlikely homeless vigilante in Soho. But ‘Locke’, Knight's second feature, could barely be more taut and spare. For its entire 85-minute running time the only character on screen is Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy), a Welsh building site manager who is driving halfway across England on the way to London and trying to juggle several fragile pieces of his work and home lives. Both are on the verge of collapse: an unexpected, seriously complicated engagement elsewhere means that he has to abandon his wife and two kids for the night and miss a crucial early-morning appointment with 218 lorries full of concrete.
Like a switchboard operator during a corporate meltdown, Locke fields countless conversations on his hands-free mobile as he tears down the M6 in the dark. When it’s not ringing, he’s talking to his dead dad – for him, a paragon of irresponsibility – whom he imagines to be sitting on the back seat of his BMW. As a director, Knight makes much of this confined space, keeping close to Locke’s face for much of the time, but also making great use of the reflections of car headlights and streetlamps on the car's windows and shiny side panels. It’s a brilliant performance from Hardy, who essays an impeccable Welsh accent and feigns calm and control while making clear that Locke is dying inside. This is a masterclass in how the most local, most hemmed-in stories can reverberate with the power of big, universal themes.
Author: Dave Calhoun