Written and Directed by Steven Knight
Opens Friday April 25
Runtime: 85 minutes
It starts in a car leaving Birmingham England for London, driven by Ivan Locke, a construction site manager on a personal mission. He should be headed to the job site for a huge day’s work, but he’s not going. He’s driving south in the dark, as streetlights fly by.
Because he’s abandoned the cement pouring project “the biggest in Europe” he’s fired but he refuses to let go. Even as he’s driving further and further away from the site and it’s nearing deadline, with essential tools in his car, he speaks of “his” building, “his” cement. Locke takes these things extremely personally, with ownership, but refuses to show up.
He’s going to London to a woman who needs him, a woman he met once, who is pregnant by him and ready to give birth. He tells his wife by phone while his son asks him to come home to watch a match. He’s dealing with a guy at the site who he thinks can do the job he abandoned if he walks him through it but the guy’s drunk. Locke’s boss and the woman at the hospital are melting down on him.We struggle to understand his moral sense. He thinks he’s doing the right thing, making up for injustices both his and others’, and thereby proving he’s more moral than his late, abusive father. But by doing what he thinks is right for one person this night means relieving himself of all other responsibility. It’s an awkward way to find redemption.
We must also take into account the mental instability he tries to obscure with forthright, aggressive competence. Haunted by the ghost of his cruel father in the back seat he juggles phones and wrecks lives so he can finally beat the old man at something.
Locke is a most unusual film, admirable for its unique take on cinema and the protagonist’s blurred personality. Hardy is absolutely superb; his the only face we see, and because his face is so interesting, it’s okay. It speaks volume with the slightest movement.
Because he’s abandoned the cement pouring project “the biggest in Europe” he’s fired but he refuses to let go. Even as he’s driving further and further away from it, with essential tools in his car, he speaks of “his” building, “his” cement. Locke takes these things extremely personally, with ownership but blows off being there.
The film is barebones as it gets - a person and a phone. Its incessant ringing, demanding his attention and sympathy, forcing him to prevaricate and manipulate to achieve his agenda.
Locke is a brilliant film. It’s maddening and you’ll come out sputtering and angry, and then later it will become clear how incredible it is and how Locke managed to manipulate us too.