"I want to talk about practical next steps."
Every once in a while a film comes along that doesn’t break down your door like a big budget blockbuster, or sneak in through your bedroom window like an indie, but waits outside on your porch like a surprise package, until you open the door to discover it, and then continues on its way. Locke, written and directed by Steven Knight, is that kind of film.
Locke follows the intimate story of Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy), a somewhat scruffy, seemingly pleasant everyman over the course of one night of his life, more specifically, one drive. Ivan is driving to London from Birmingham. This fact doesn’t seem like much to the viewer at first, until we learn that not one of his coworkers or family know he is actually going there in the first place.
Locke is a fantastic reminder of what films can be when you remove all the fluff and leave behind a great script, a spellbinding actor, and tense direction. It’s filmmaking at its barest. The film takes place over one drive, and we the audience never once leave Ivan’s car. 90 minutes in one setting is a dangerous challenge to take on in the ADD era of constantly changing stimuli. But Steven Knight understands his script, and wisely places his confidence in Hardy. Caging the viewers in with him forces us to absorb everything that is happening to this man. We see him alone, when no one else in his life can. We are privy to his closest feelings and emotions. Hardy carries the whole film. You simply cannot look away from him. A film stuck in a car and with only one actor, and it’s captivating. Tom Hardy’s performance as the even tempered Ivan is layered on so many levels, and peppered with such subtlety. The restrictions of the setting would play havoc on another actor’s abilities, but Hardy conveys such emotion through barely a twitch of the face. The man is a chameleon. It’s not so much what is going on in his expression, as what is going on behind it, inside him. We can see it, and that is what makes this film work.
Hardy’s performance is helped by the well rounded voice cast of actors who play the various people in his life. To the audience they are disembodied, muffled by the speakers of Ivan’s car phone as he speaks to them, explaining his baffling actions, but in Hardy we can see the memories and history he has with them all, his children, his wife, his coworkers. His demeanor with each person really gives insight into his character, and helps shed even more light on why a man would suddenly decide to head to London after a long day’s work, when his family expects him home and his colleagues expect him back on the job bright and early.
I feel that I should shed light on what exactly this drive means to Ivan. Where he is going, his life will change forever, and not necessarily in the way he imagines it. It’s not just a quick drive to the liquor store, or to a bar to hang out with friends. The film is an examination of just how much one decision can irreversibly change a life. Go left instead of right, and things will never be the same.