Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Locke Review

One location films have been successful through the years. From films such as Phonebooth, Red Eye and Flightplan have proven that with a tight enough script, you can create a tense and entertaining film set in a single location. It does all come down to the script, though. WIthout a good script, you could end up with Snakes on a Plane...Eek! With this, comes Steven Knight's new film, Locke.  A film where the whole story takes places inside the confines of a car, and with Tom Hardy as the only actor on screen. But just how well does it work?

Firstly, the script it utterly fantastic. It wastes very little of its short running time and overall is a captivating and rewarding film with a terrific central performance. Steven Knight has crafted such great characters. They're real characters and each of them have their own personalities and yet we don't even see them on screen. Knight is quoted in saying: "'I wanted to do something quite different, in a confined space, about a guy whose life changes during the course of one car journey. And we never leave the car." And that is literally what happens.

As he takes to the road he is seemingly a man in control of his destiny, determined to do the right thing only for everything to slowly unravel. Through conversations on the phone he tries to negotiate an emerging crisis at work with his boss and an evolving domestic situation with a concerned wife and sons desperate to have their dad home to watch the football.

It's relentless - call after call we see Locke drift into despair. It's heavy and emotionally exhausting. Relentless is an apt adjective. The films roller coaster script was completely reverting as the juxtaposed character interactions went from making you laugh out loud to bringing a tear of compassion to your eye.

Clocking in at just under 90 minutes, Locke is refreshingly short and never over stays its welcome. The narrative is so constant that even when Hardy is not in hands- free phone switchboard mode, we capture another underlying story. Locke provides just as much a character journey as it does a car journey.

It is testament to Hardy's acting nous that he can pull off such a taught, powerful performance solely based on reactions to the increasingly dramatic phone calls. Locke is unrelenting in his belief of doing the right thing and we see why when he has imagined conversations with his father, an apparently neglectful and emotionally absent figure in his life. These scenes in particular are beautifully shot with the use of Locke looking into the car mirrors for the man who isn't there. 

However, his Welsh accent is squiffy to say the least. It's not that it's bad, it's just really forced and unnatural. It's clear that Hardy isn't Welsh and it takes away from his performance. Also, there was no real need for him to be Welsh. The film wasn't set in Wales and the other characters had a mixture of accents. It was an odd decision to say the least. 
Apart from that, though, it's a wonderful film that deserves a lot of credit. Hopefully this will shortly be recognised as a seminal British feature film. A remarkable achievement, story telling and performance at the very highest level and hugely entertaining. Collaboratively it's nothing less than a cinematic tour de force. Filmed in just eight nights and with very low budget, the film is literally a lesson of how unique and quite fantastic minimalist cinema can be.