Press Pass LA attended the advance screening of Locke starring Tom Hardy and directed by Steven Knight.
The measure of a person is in their name. When we hear a name being mentioned, knowing that person, can evoke a multitude of thoughts and judgements that make up the feelings you most associate with them as a whole.
Even further, some of us allow the ghosts in our name to chase us by molding ourselves accordingly, trying to live up to the different surnames we each bare. Most of us though, are trying to lift our names from the low lying depths from which we came. The goal being a status that is so unadulteratedly firm that no matter what, even at our most vulnerable, we can still be remembered as genuine. Righteous. Even if you acknowledge you have acted sinfully…once. That is the ordinary person’s tragedy by which, in its blue collar infinity, is extraordinary on screen and in its plight. The entirety of this particular plight, takes place in a car on a two hour drive from Birmingham to London, in series of nonstop phone calls. Yes, I know. I know, but stay with me here… This is Locke, a film written and directed by Steven Knight (Eastern Promises), starring Tom Hardy.
Tom Hardy plays the title character Ivan Locke. A Construction Site Director who is about to change the trajectory of his normal life to reinforce the name he has built for himself by simultaneously destroying it in a span of two hours….and Hardy. Is. Brilliant! For those of you who have not seen Tom Hardy in anything, I highly suggest you seek out something that he’s acted in. He’s amazing in Bronson and Lawless, just to name two. The more screen time he gets the more you’ll love him. He’s a character driven actor who is beyond words in his ability to break down his performances into the most essential human elements, which in this case is Integrity.
He shows it in every minute of this movie. The nuances he projects parallel the subtleties written and directed into Locke so well, that you would think that this really was a glimpse into someone’s actual life. Because that’s what this is, a glimpse. It is just a quick flash into an everyday tragedy and the journey one must take to become who and what they are known to be, even though one can never undo the truth and take things back. Locke loses it all, but keeps it together, like an entire office building being swallowed whole by an ocean.
Tom Hardy lets his character breathe. He quietly shows the love Locke has for his family. The practicality he has for the honesty in which a person can live with in the eye of an unintended deceit, and the love for what he does for a living. The paradors of this film are what make it so riveting. The explanation from Ivan Locke about how fragile concrete is, even though it is something so beautifully strong that it can hold the weight of the world, is what houses the humanity of the character and steals the film as a whole.
Ivan measures himself by comparison to the failures of his father, of which he does not want to repeat, so he pushes beyond the norm to do something extraordinary in owning up to his one mistake. An ongoing conversation with the unseen ghost of his old man, throughout the car ride, takes you deeper into the average man’s complexity, something not so average. With every curve of the freeway and every phone call Locke makes, his life unravels, but is set back on course, all at the same time.
The film sums it all up with a line referencing a baby’s umbilical cord. “Its around the neck like a noose. Its the lifeline and a noose at the same time.” That’s the irony and alignment that makes this movie so amazingly adept at real life. The phone line is his noose and line to his life.
Steven Knight is a writer on his own planet in this one. He makes a name for himself in the softness of his direction that brings you along for a leisurely ride, while the story line unravels slowly and justly that is not painstaking, nor bumbling. It allows the right balances of correspondence and equidistance in characterization that it makes their interactions true in the shadows of a huge decision. These interactions are all on the phone mind you.
As a writer, this film made me realize that I may have to practice more to get to the level of simple pulchritude used by Knight. His directing plays cleverly on camera, along with the editing (Justine Wright is so slight with her flow, it’s masterful), that the glow and flashes of the highway highlight every grimace, laugh, nose blow and phone call. The scenes pan from break lights, to face, to street signs, making it seem like a montage of a montage that it takes you for a literal ride and makes you privy to the unsheathing of a real blade cutting into a man trying to do whats best in a heart piercing situation.
This movie is entertaining, bold in approach, and minimalistic. Its complexities to real life on film make it seem like the opposite of minimal, but like a Frank Stella painting, the simple design make it complex in execution.
Tom Hardy drives this movie (all puns intended), and in the end we all must realize, life goes on even after we’re gone. See this film with an open heart and mind. You will realize you don’t have to be over the top to go over the top. You just have to be a person whose willing to do what is right to keep yourself remarkable. Be the person you know you should be, even if those around think you’re not being who you really are. Eventually out of the confusion, life will make us all the same differently. The common me, that is you.