[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B00JLBVACG][/pullquote] I will be there. A line uttered by Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) to a woman named Bethan (Olivia Colman) who is having his baby. The twist, Bethan is not his wife, but she is about to find out about it. This sensationalist tabloid-esque story forms the central driving narrative of the minimalist ˜one-man-in-car’ artistic experiment that is Locke.
Written and directed by Steven Knight and shot in its entirety 8 times over 10 nights, with the best bits melded together. The film features the titular character making a series of phone calls to his wife, kids, junior assistant, boss and the aforementioned Bethan as he tries to keep his life from falling apart. Deciding to be there for the birth of his illegitimate child, something his long-dead father never succeeded at, while overseeing the largest concrete fill in Europe through a potentially drunk assistant and negotiating to keep his job as well as informing his wife of his one night indiscretion, Locke has 2 hours to hold it all together while driving in his car. It’s a bold central conceit and one that relies heavily on the charisma and acting ability of its lead, the only actor to feature as anything other than a disembodied voice. Luckily for Stephen Knight that actor is Tom Hardy.
From the moment he makes the first phone call and that rich Welsh accent comes at you, you’re hooked. Like a good mystery it slowly reveals its hand, while keeping you guessing at the finer details. It plays on the same base emotions as any number of glossy magazines, with rebellion, betrayal and a healthy does of schardenfreud. Unlike those magazines and tabloids that pontificate on the lack of virtue of the celebrities it portrays, Locke is a far more intelligent beast. Its main character is very much a good and honourable man whose job pushed him into an unfortunate, although completely avoidable mistake.
The captivating element of the film is his flat refusal to lie.
At any moment he could easily lie to anyone he’s talking to and save every part of his life from falling apart, but that’s what his father would have done, and he doesn’t want to be his father. This is slowly revealed through conversations he has with his father, who he imagines to be in the backseat of the car. Visions that are probably not helped by the cough medicine he drinks at regular intervals.
Steven Knight, the man responsible for writing Eastern Promises, Dirty Pretty Things and Closed Circuit does a stellar job keeping the narrative moving forward both verbally and in a driving sense. The constant movement of the car is noticeable in literally driving Locke toward his end goal. This is a goal that remains a mystery to the very end and even the SatNav he’s using just shows a straight road with no end ever in sight.