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British Film Review: Locke
Directed By Steven Knight
From British screenwriter Steven Knight (Dirty Pretty Things, Eastern Promises) comes his latest feature film 'Locke', which is also his second turn as director after début 'Hummingbird' earlier this year, which starred Jason Statham.
We meet Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy), a construction worker, as he is driving from Birmingham to London late one night. The usually reliable and solid character has, unusually, abandoned an important project to meet the woman he had an affair with as she gives birth to their child. By facing up to his responsibilities, it means that the other parts of his life will inevitably fall apart. He has to admit to his wife over the phone that he is fathering another child, while his boss, still reeling from Ivan's departure, tells him he is fired.
Along this literal and emotional journey, Ivan tries to piece things back together, juggling phone calls from his family, mistress and his somewhat inadequate colleague - who needs step by step guidance to finish their work in Ivan's absence.
'Locke' is an extremely minimalist screen venture, with Ivan as the only present character and his car as the only location. The film plays out almost in real-time, with the few pieces of action being our leading man scrabbling for a folder or banging the steering wheel in frustration.
Although personally I relish the thought of such a stripped back film, the one-man-show style may strike fear into the easily distracted. Luckily our 'one man' is the ever engaging Tom Hardy, who whether running around in a Hollywood blockbuster or sitting in a car for 85 minutes, is always compelling. No one could give such intensity to conversations over concrete than Hardy, and his performance as Welshman Ivan Locke further solidifies his status as one of the UK's most talented screen actors.
For the most part 'Locke' works very well despite its insular setting, with the different phone calls adding a variety of tones depending who's on the other end. This is also in thanks to the supporting cast – or the voices of them - actors such as Andrew Scott as colleague Donal, Ruth Wilson as wife Katrina, and refreshingly for films dealing with adultery, Olivia Colman as an older 'other woman' Bethan.
Where the film falters slightly perhaps is in its quick cuts from the fairly normal interactions between Ivan and his co-workers or family to the almost Shakespearean conversations Ivan has with his dead father, the tone of which slightly jars and perhaps would have felt a more natural transition to build up to these moments in the final act.
But in saying that, 'Locke' is very brave in its style choices, a little like watching theatre on wheels. This kind of experimental type film-making is something I hope we can continue to see more of in the British film industry.
A strong leading performance with a unique concept makes what could have easily been a bit tedious into something quite absorbing.
'Locke' is out on DVD 25th August 2014
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