In a time when fantasy and superhero movies are ruling the box-office, Locke comes as a welcome change. It’s a small piece that is more human, having its roots and basic premise originating from everyday life of the common man and woman.
Locke is almost a voyeuristic look into the trials and tribulations of Ian Locke, a construction manager extraordinaire, played excellently by the mature looking Tom Hardy, as he starts off on an hour and half long journey that will change his life. Filmed entirely in the car, the audience is privy to Locke’s dilemmas as he calls his family and work, calmly while in the eye of the storm, and realizes that the world around him is crashing down just as he is on his way to become a part of new beginnings.
At the face of it, Locke has a feel and comes across as a one man show, but is so much more than that when you factor in all the elements. The audience has an unaltered view of Ian while he drives and calls his children, wife, and miscellaneous work colleagues, and we see him as a calm character that only lets out his frustration a few times when not on the phone with anyone. In complete contrast to the serene and unruffled nature of Ian, we have the various characters on the other side of these phone calls, whom the audience cannot see, but are only able to factor in their emotions, angst, anger, and frustrations, through their voice. It goes without saying that all the ‘voice’ actors deserve appreciation for brilliantly portraying their parts and being the soul of the film.
Locke is a character study at the heart of it all. It takes you into the lives of people you see around you and how everyone, be it a construction worker or the person next to you on the bus or a shop keeper, anyone really, has his or her own problems that are equivalent to the ‘world ending’ for them.
The film also works on a number of other levels. Initially, when Locke starts off on his journey, we are given crucial information in small parts as he starts to make phone calls. Everything isn’t spoon fed, and slowly, with the tension at its peak, just as the audience pieces together Ian’s predicament, just as we know what is going on, the film shifts gears and turns the focus on what the outcome will/should be giving the film a more dramatic edge. Now, the almost all knowing audience is left wondering how the situation will conclude, and mind you, it does in a very understated yet classically awe-inspiring way.
The film is a bold and brave step in filming as well. Since I had the pleasure to be the part of the premier of the film and witness a small question and answer session afterwards, further insight into the film added to its charm. Just the revelation that the film was made with Tom Hardy in the car while he spoke to the various characters, in hotel rooms near the motorway, in entirety, every time, was quite interesting. Almost like a play being rehearsed, the director, Steven Knight ended up with 16 full recordings of this one and half hour film that he could then piece together.
The premier held at Cineworld Birmingham was a subtle affair that obviously was made special with the presence of the very down-to-earth Tom Hardy with loads of fans cheering his arrival. The emphasis was on the film and it was apparent that the entire team was proud of and excited about the end product, as they should be.
Locke is just not a one man show; it is also just not a character study either, but rather a claustrophobic, intense, character driven story that places a mirror in-front of everyday life.