Saturday, December 20, 2014

12 Movies of Christmas: Locke (2014)

         Once We Are 'Locked' In The Car, We Are In For An Intense Joy Ride With No Pit Stops
       The beauty of experimental films or films with simple plots and few locations, like Gravity, The Blair Witch Project, Boyhood, and the subject of this review, Locke, is that they have audiences thinking "How could they pull that off?" or "What will they do with just that?", which is why they want to see it for themselves. Thankfully, most people are pleasantly surprised by these crazy experiments as Locke is yet another great example of how minimalist films can be like one tree and simple imagination making a Christmas special.

     Locke follows the story of a construction manager named Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) who drives down the highway during the night and after he received one critical phone call, it then begins to slowly crumble Locke's personal life, ranging from his relationship with his wife, his children, and his job. Locke tries to juggle it all while confined in his car.

     First off, I'll discuss the performance by Tom Hardy. It is an absolute master-class and has quite a bit of layers to it. We see that his character showcases unapologetic candor yet he also has a bit of subtle charm with those two intersected layers being peeled off revealing a more crazed exterior as he channels his vulnerabilities by talking to himself in the mirror and through sudden eye blinks and tears and sweat, we see struggles of confidence.

    One thing that writer/director Steven Knight did, which I loved, was that he never cuts back and forth between the car and the different places that the unseen characters are in. From the beginning until the end, we are only in the car and once the conflict begins to elevate, the setting allows for some palm-sweating claustrophobia. Since this is an experimental film, going the aforementioned route of cutting back and forth would defeat the purpose of this little experiment and make the film seem cliched. The other actors are only heard and not seen, yet they manage to provide solid work. One in particular I'd love to acknowledge is Ruth Wilson who plays Locke's flustered wife Katrina. Despite never seeing her on screen, she undergoes a rather intense arc and really makes you feel her waves of ice shining through.

    Since the film deals with the main character trying to juggle his family and work life, I thought it was very interesting how they are woven together after the critical phone call that Locke gets in the beginning. As the film progresses and the conflict escalates, the tension would be in the form of interrupted phone calls and not just the brilliant score elevating the conflict.


      Overall, Locke is a simple and experimental tour-de-force that features a master-class one man show by Tom Hardy that deserves serious Oscar attention. The direction by Steven Knight is spectacular, the storyline is intense, and I hope that it inspires other filmmakers to try to come up with experiments of their own.

Grade: A+