Friday, 22 August 2014


Directed by Steven Knight

We first see Ivan Locke leaving work for the night. A construction worker, we see him take off his heavy boots, get in the car, and drive away. He arrives at a traffic light and turns his blinker on to go left. Eyes closed, mind whirling, the light turns green and he hesitates. Left brings him home to his family, but he doesn't move. The truck behind him honks a few times over before Ivan flips his blinker to the other direction and makes a right turn. He's made his choice, and now he must pay for it. Ivan has a long night ahead of him. He's driving away and is making various phone calls in the car. He's calling work to make arrangements because he won't be there for a big cement pour in the morning and he's calling his family and trying to tell them why he can't come home tonight and will miss the big football game. And from here, I can't say much else without giving away the film. But the film asks the questions about choices. Left or right? Are the choices we make the right ones? And if so, are we ready to deal with the consequences?

Locke gives us an extremely intimate view into the life of Ivan Locke. From what we get from the 85 minutes is that he's a fantastic man. He's high up at his construction company and is in charge of this cement pour for a 55-storey building. He's well loved by his co-workers and his extremely efficient. He's also well-loved by his family. He's been married for 15 years and has two sons whom, you can tell, mutually love each other very much. But where we come in on Ivan's story is where he's faced with a choice. To go home to his family, or take the unknown road. Each path lies with life changing answers. And a choice, he does make.

 The film is more or less in real time and features Ivan Locke actor Tom Hardy as the sole physical actor, and has him behind the wheel of the car for the full 85 minutes. Tom Hardy, who has been a rising actor for some time now, does a complete 180 from the film he did directly before this, The Dark Knight Rises. Hardy plays Ivan with such grace and poise. His Welsh accent is charming and his words always seem well-thought out (but never overly scripted). Hardy really digs into the crisis that Ivan is going through and we see so much going through Hardy that he completely captures all the little things. Tom Hardy is definitely a talented actor, and this film, as the sole actor for 85 minutes, is a complete showcase of his talent. Hardy is able to balance the nuances, of which the film is full of. It's completely about nuance and Hardy gets it all. It's a subtle performance, but it's definitely powerful one. It was never forceful or over-dramatic but shows a man going through a crisis, occasionally breaking down, but trying to stay strong and assure himself he's making the right decision.

This is definitely not a movie for everyone. By a lot of people's definition, "nothing happens". There's no bad guys, there's no car chases (despite being a film that Ivan spends driving the whole time). It's Ivan facing up to the choices he made in the past and the choice he must make now. I admit, it was not what I was expecting. The intense cover and the brief and vague summary made me wonder if I was getting into something like speed. I was hooked right from the beginning, trying to figure out what Ivan was doing, where he was going and why. The story, especially when revealed what's going on, will not appeal to everyone. It's a character study above all, and Steven Knight has both written and directed it with excellence. Ivan Locke is a character you come to feel for. Whether you sympathize with him or not, you really dive into his life and get to know him so intimately. With the film set in real time, we only get an hour and a half slice into one person's life, but it's a crucial, make-or-break moment, and Steven Knight (as well as Tom Hardy) allow us to be extremely involved. Steven Knight's script is absolutely perfect. It never sounded overly scripted but it was so well thought out. So many offhand comments reflect so well to the situation at hand. Again, it's the small things that make it so great. With the film being almost completely made up of Ivan taking phone calls, you'd think this would get tiring or repetitive, but Knight manages to keep interest and even tension there. The calls Ivan takes are all meaningful, and all play a bigger part. Some short, some longer, but all have a purpose, and all have emotion and power.

This was a film I enjoyed very, very much. I'm finding, more and more, that I love small character studies. It's interesting to see in contrast to a film like Boyhood. While this is a very different film, in many ways, it's another character study that's interesting to watch in contrast. Boyhood spanned 12 years over one person's life, and Locke was 85 minutes of one man. The problems are incredibly different but still life-changing for both people. While it probably isn't the most accurate contrast, it was interesting watching them so close together.

Locke is a film that a lot of people haven't seen, or have even heard of. It probably won't win many awards and it definitely didn't make a lot of money. However, it's definitely a powerful film about the choices we make and how to deal with them. You may not agree whether Ivan made the right choice or not, but the journey we went with him on is an intense and beautiful and sad one.


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