Throwback Thursday |Locke (2014) Review

Locke, Stock and Barrel (2015)

In a film that swaps stage for car with an unusually theatrical script, this film has a perfect cast with a range of backgrounds in theatre and radio, even though we never see them. Tom Holland (Billy Elliot the Musical) provides his voice as Locke’s son; Ruth Wilson (A Streetcar Named Desire) portrays the betrayed wife; and Tony Award Winner, Ben Daniels (Dangerous Liaisons) does his best Gordon Ramsay impression as Ivan’s boss. Among this assortment of interesting characters are two well-known television stars and British icons: Olivia Colman (Broadchurch) plays the unstable ‘Beth’ perfectly, Andrew Scott (Sherlock) encapsulates the fear of a mere concrete farmer, Donal, who has to step up to the batting plate, while his boss is away.

Some may ask: why make this a movie, when it is so contained, set in real time and even features scenes, in which Hardy communicates with the hallucination of his father in the back seat — a classic soliloquy trope in theatre? Surely it would be much better suited for a show on the west end. However, Locke does make use of the cinematic qualities of the silver screen. The number of close-ups around Hardy’s face and key props in the film give the audience an intense connection throughout this emotional experience.

It also makes the opening and closing shots even more powerful as we pan in from a construction site to remind of the humble beginnings and later pan out to the M6 to remind us that there are thousands of stories playing out in each car on every journey of every road, sending a very powerful message that a personal experience is a human experience.

The ambient score provides a great contrast to the heavy drama being portrayed onscreen. And by having the plot take place during what appears to be a cold winter’s night, we are treated to the steady pulse of streetlights splashing across Hardy’s face like a siren spelling the impending deterioration of the solid life he has built.

These repeated aesthetics complement some incredible recurring themes in the script. Locke has great pride in his work and in his building which will “displace air”, and that building needs a steady foundation, just like a child needs a steady father. Hardy’s cold helps to remind us that he is drifting further from his usual self after 9 months of thinking about how he will deal with the arrival of his bastard son. The word bastard itself reoccurs over and over; the baby is a bastard, like his father Ivan is a bastard, like Ivan’s boss is aptly named ‘bastard’ in his contacts, just below ‘Beth’ the mother of his own bastard. The word imposes itself on the screen like a neon light hanging over Locke’s head, reminding the audience that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

If your father was a low-life, will you inevitably become him even if you spend your entire life trying to avoid that? It’s hard to say, Locke leaves us with a lot of mystery despite having a very well-rounded, satisfying story. Perhaps this film does not deal with the big issues of today, maybe it doesn’t make for an adrenaline-fuelled, testosterone-injected thrill-ride that we’d expect from Tom Hardy, but what Steven Knight has done with Locke is tell a story — a story that is emotionally engaging and deeply personal.