Note: I saw this film on my flight to Beijing- meaning reformatted on a tiny screen with terrible sound, distracted by the view out the window.
Locke was a good film, but obviously constrained by its conceit of having all of the action take place within one drive to the hospital. Despite this drawback, the film managed to create a compelling character study with about as interesting visuals as one could hope for. The star of the film is most definitely Tom Hardy and his performance, largely blowing everything else out of the water.
Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is a well balanced hardworking construction worker with a giant problem. He has, out of character it seems, fathered an illegitimate child and is choosing to be with the mother during the birth over his other family and work commitments. Missing a soccer match viewing party with his wife and two sons and a big concrete pour for his new building, he takes call on her hour and a half drive to meet the woman he barely knows who is giving birth to their son.
Tom Hardy is the only actor onscreen in this entire film. The rest of the cast lends support through superb voice work, but really, the whole film rests on Hardy’s shoulders. He brings to life and incredibly sympathetic character; a man who has made a mistake but is trying to do the right thing by his child. I have never seen Hardy give a bad performance, and this film is no different. He is really the reason to see the movie.
The film is basically functioning in two modes; Ivan talking to himself (perhaps addressing an absent father in his imagination) and Ivan talking on the phone. The way the film signals the switch between these two modes is very effective visually. When he addresses himself/father, there is almost always a shot of the empty back seat, as if Hardy is talking to someone seated there, then the film will cut to different angles of Hardy’s face for the most part. It would have been nice to see a little bit more variation instead of being on Hardy 98% of the time, but to be fair, they did get some really interesting angles. I also think it might have been interesting if they had varied the lighting a bit more, maybe as a way to differentiate who is talking on the phone. I didn’t notice a huge change in the lighting with any rhyme or reason, it was mostly just out of focus streetlights and their reflections (which were gorgeous- but that’s all there seemed to be for 90 minutes). As always, I could be missing something.
The only other complaint I have with the movie is that a lot of the dialogue got repetitive in the second half. Characters restate conflicts and seem to rehash their conversations multiple times. Maybe this was intended to just put more stress on Ivan, but it also give the audience plenty of opportunities to check out.
Though it could have cut down the dialogue a bit and I didn’t fully comprehend the cinematography, Locke ended up being well worth my time because of the well crafted character study and the portrayal by Tom Hardy. For any fans of Hardy, this is a must see. He outshines everything else in the movie, which feels a bit to married to its gimmick, but is well worth the watch all the same.
“I am trying to do the right thing.”
Long story short: 3/4 stars