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London Film Festival 2013: Locke - Review


Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

CINEMA is littered with scenarios in which a single character is the sole focus as their life unravels before them because of a set of exceptional circumstances. Just recently, we’ve had Robert Redford alone at sea in All Is Lost, while Tom Hanks was adrift in Castaway and Ryan Reynolds endured a torrid time confined to a coffin in Buried.

Compared to those, Tom Hardy’s predicament in Locke, which sees him confined to being behind the wheel of his luxury BMW, is almost comfortable. But then Hardy is on a journey that could well destroy him in different ways.

The actor plays Ivan Locke, a dedicated structural engineer from Wales who is on the eve of a career defining achievement.

Instead of going through his usual meticulous final preparation, or even spending time with his family watching the football with his favourite German beer, wife and two sons, he is headed to London on the motorway to do the right thing and take the first steps towards correcting his one big mistake.

We won’t reveal any further details of what’s involved other than to say that over the course of his night-time drive Locke must juggle increasingly anxious calls from angry work colleagues with personal calls from the people whose lives his mistake has impacted, including his hitherto unaware wife.

Writer-director Steven Knight’s subsequent film delights in slowly turning the screw against it’s central character, showing how his controlled life gradually unravels even as he tries to hold each piece together.
Hardy, for his part, combines steely determination with a slow realisation that things are slipping away, as well as a deep-rooted anger that he may be about to repeat the sins of his own father. It’s an utterly engaging stand-alone performance that continually keeps things compelling.

And while Locke’s stubborn refusal to engage with the emotional complexity and hurt of his actions makes him a bit of an idiot, there remains something worth rooting for in him. Hardy conveys a lot from very little and is never allowed to leave the car for the entire journey.

Knight’s film may not have as high stakes as some of the earlier films I mentioned but he still manages to keep things taut throughout, while even making you sympathise and root for some of the people at the other end of Locke’s phone line.

And he ensures the film retains a cinematic feel with some stylish cinematography – his neon journey evocative of Michael Mann at times.

Hence, while Locke won’t be to every taste and isn’t without flaws (there are lulls, while some will find it difficult to warm to Hardy at all), Locke remains a confident and consistently engaging experience that’s a triumph for both star and creator.

Certificate: 15tbc
Running time: 85mins
UK Release Date: tbc
London Film Festival Dates: October 18 (OWE1, 9.20pm), October 19 (Ritzy, 9pm), October 20 (Vue 7, 9pm)