Monday, May 26, 2014

Taut psychological drama along the motorway

Locke directed by Steven Knight and starring Tom Hardy, currently screening at the Uptown Birmingham 8 and Michigan Theatre, is a road movie with a difference. Ivan Knight, a construction engineer, knocks off his shift on the eve of the biggest concrete pour in Europe, gets into his car and drives one and a half hours from Birmingham to London. Over that time he will have several crucial decisions to make, affecting both his professional and personal lives. This is a searing emotionally tightrope he’s on and we’re there with him literally on the edge of our seats. Locke must ensure that the pour goes off without a hitch despite tremendous odds against it. And he must somehow resolve a major family conflict created by his own making. All the while, we see him at the wheel of his BMW, driving along the M1 motorway, connecting on and off via Bluetooth with any number of people with whom he’s variously negotiating, persuading, and pleading, while trying to keep a balanced rational mind, as befits a low key engineer whose life is marked by methodical calculations. The film is one of the best I’ve seen in months, not only because of how well acted and directed it is but because it deals with an unusual – for filmmakers – topic: an ordinary man in an everyday industry. The movie, story-wise, is a one man show. All we see is Locke in his car as he drives to London in the darkness of night, illuminated by passing headlights and overhead directional signs. The freeway environment lends its own personality. There are other actors but we just hear their voices, representing work colleagues, friends and family members. The film was shot realistically on a motorway by three cameras from different angles while Hardy is driving. It’s astonishingly real as Locke negotiates its three lanes of often busy and quite anonymous traffic, one man in one car among a river of others, each driver no doubt with their own riveting story, if only they had a director this good to tell it.

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