Friday, May 16, 2014

Locke (opens May 16th in Cleveland exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre)

[LOCKE opens Friday May 16th in Cleveland exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre.]

Review by Pamela Zoslov

Though it is not the first film to feature a solitary actor onscreen, LOCKE is certainly one of the best. Written and directed by Stephen Knight (EASTERN PROMISES, DIRTY PRETTY THINGS), the British thriller takes place entirely inside a BMW driven by Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy), a construction supervisor, as he drives from Birmingham to London on an eventful night, fielding calls on his car's hands-free Bluetooth.

It takes a very fine actor to make this limited setting work, and Knight has that in Hardy, whose portrayal of a man struggling to do what he believes is right is enthralling. Locke's trip, we learn, is the result of a past indiscretion in London. and his sudden departure means he'll miss the pouring of the foundation of his latest building, a critical task he must now leave in the hands of his young Irish employee, Donal (the voice of Andrew Scott). Locke's job is at risk, and so is his family life, as he makes a difficult disclosure to his wife, Katrina (voice of Ruth Wilson), who's been waiting for him to come home and watch a football match with their son.

As he drives into the night, Locke also talks with his dead father, a reckless wastrel who's the reason Locke is risking all to do the right thing. “Unlike you,” Locke says to his dad, simmering with low-level rage, “I will be there to take care of my fuckup.” Locke is a man for whom duty is everything, and his point of view is unfailingly pragmatic, even as in the face of personal catastrophe. His speech is dotted with phrases like “I have no choice,” “No matter what the situation is, you can make it good,” “I have made my decision,” “I will do what has to be done.” Hardy employs a persuasive Northern accent that tells a lot about this practical fellow who's succeeded in the manual trades.

Locke's machinations to ensure that all is in place for tomorrow's concrete pour, even after his boss gives him the sack, show his unflagging dedication to work, which he believes makes him a good man. His wife, however, feels differently. She realizes, to her dismay, that as their family disintegrates over the phone, Locke is at the same time making calls about work. It confirms what she already knew. “You're more in love with your buildings, anyway.” The screenplay, and Hardy's arresting performance, emphasize the story's moral complexity. Locke is an eminently reasonable man who is paying the price for a long-ago moment of human sympathy. His wife is enraged by his apparent coldness. Reason and emotion are continuously at war within him.

The drama, based as it is on voices, could easily work as a radio play, but the film excels visually as well. Haris Zambarloukos' nocturnal road cinematography is a subtle symphony of colored lights, mirror reflections, double exposures and, at one point, a row of headlights dancing like winged angels. Dickon Hinchliffe's excellent score provides the appropriate intensity.  4 out of 4 stars.

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