★★★★★ | Locke
Ivan Locke is on the eve of the biggest challenge of his career.
Tomorrow sees the biggest concrete pour ever that will serve as the foundation for Europe’s largest building to date. As the foreman of the site he is considered not only the go-to expert but also a safe pair of hands to ensure that this mammoth operation will be done without a single hitch. However, that night he receives a phone call that will not only put the project in jeopardy, but will serve to unravel his job, family and his entire life.
Several months earlier whilst on another ‘concrete pour’ away from home, Locke had a one-night stand with an older rather lonely woman. It was a brief fleeting moment that he had totally forgotten about until tonight when the woman, very scared and panicking, had suddenly phoned him out of the blue to tell his she was about to give birth to his baby at any moment. So after finishing work that day he jumps into his BMW and hot-foot it down the motorway from Birmingham to the hospital in London where the woman is having a difficult labour.
In the course of the 3-hour drive Locke tries to manage the job and also his wife remotely by a series of very fraught phone conversations. Neither his flabbergasted boss nor his unsuspecting wife can accept Locke’s reasoning for abandoning them both on a whim like this and the phone calls get menacing and bitter as they threaten to destroy Locke if he persists with what they can only see as a foolhardy plan.
Meanwhile in between all this rancor Locke is also balancing calls to his deputy Foreman who Locke has convinced can manage the task on his own, even though at this hour the man is already the worse the wear for drink. He also manages to deal with the police and council officials to ensure that the construction site has all the right permits for the task. On top of which Bethan, the now very distraught mother to be, is also bombarding Locke with hysterical demands as her deteriorating condition means that the hospital need to make decisions to try to save the baby.
Throughout this all Locke is cool and collected and deals all the anger thrown at him is a quiet reasoned manner. Even though his boss fires him, Locke continues to brief his (ex) deputy as he is still convinced that he can supervise the job at a distance. He does however fail to calm his hysterical wife and she refuses to now take his calls and Locke is left communicating to her through his two teenage sons who are not interested in any family drama and much keener in relaying the play-by-play detail of the football match they had been hoping to watch with him on TV that night.
The sons are obviously the real joy in Locke’s life but in the gaps between the phone calls we learn the real reason why his is insisting on undertaking this journey tonight and its to do with the fact his own father had deserted him at an early age, and so Locke will do anything to avoid repeating this, even though it may end up at a very steep cost. He has no intention at all of starting any sort of relationship with Bethan, but he wants to take responsibility for his new child regardless. Whatever his irate boss and his wife who has been blindsided by this one act of betrayal think of him, Locke is in fact a decent man who simply wants to do the best.
Written and directed by Steven Knight, who picked up an Oscar Nomination for his screenplay for Stephen Frears ‘Dirty Pretty Things’ and is also known for writing ‘Eastern Promises’ for David Cronenberg. Knight wrote this piece for Tom Hardy and when he persuaded the actor to take the part, he was given just 2 weeks by the Actor’s agent to shoot the whole thing. It is a tour-de-force career defining performance by Hardy who is on screen in that car for the entire performance. He is nothing short of electrifying and I can totally appreciate why Knight insisted that the role was his alone.
There is whole plethora of wonderful English talent who are the disembodied voices at the end of the phone that included Olivia Colman, Ben Daniels, Danny Webb, Andrew Scott and particularly Ruth Wilson as Locke’s distraught wife.
Hands up too for Haris Zambarloukos the D.P. and Justine Wright the editor for helping make an entire movie short in car so compelling.
This small indie movie was shown in the Spotlight Section at Sundance this year and is just about to have a limited theatrical release in the UK. I do so hope it becomes more widely available as the audience it so well deserves should see it.