LOCKE Review [ATLFF 2014]
The Atlanta Film Festival has come and gone, and although I spent the entire week there, the only film I managed to actually watch was Locke directed by Steven Knight. What got me to put down my DSLR and sit down in that recently reupholstered seat? Two words – Tom Hardy.
Hardy may not be the sole reason that most movie watchers choose to see this particular film, but he will definitely be the reason they enjoy it. Locke isn’t your typical Hollywood feature. It’s shot inside a single vehicle as it travels between Birmingham and London, driven by Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy). Locke faces a life altering journey as he makes a decision that will change everything for himself and the people closest to him.
The story unfolds through a series of phone conversations that Locke has during this 84 minute ride. While on location at a construction job, in a moment of alcohol-induced weakness, Locke sleeps with his secretary. The caveat to this misadventure is that the woman winds up pregnant, and while under different circumstances this might be considered a positive, Locke is happily married with two children already. The woman in question, contrastingly, is single and particularly lonely. She decides to keep the child and raise it on her own, although she maintains the illusion that Locke will proclaim his love for her and join in her family dream.
The situation is further complicated when viewers discover that Locke has waited until the most inopportune moment to reveal this indiscretion to his wife. Although it took several attempts for him to drop this bomb on her, she reacts in a most predictable manner despite his sense of logic. Locke is under the impression that he can restore his life to its former glory despite his indiscretion, which apparently is something that runs in the family. There are several moments in the story where he appears to be talking to someone in the backseat, presumably his father, who left the family for another while Locke was at an impressionable age. Part of his reasoning for supporting this woman is apparently an attempt to rectify what his father was unable to do all those years ago.
Another strand of the communication that Locke had over the course of his journey surrounded his professional life. In his attempt to be the man his father never was, he left town in the middle of an important job. This resulted in his termination, yet Locke upheld his strong commitment to the company and continued to set up for the morning despite no longer being obligated to. His odd attachment to his position showcased his detachment from his family, and seemed to be on the top of his priority list throughout the film.
Ivan Locke is an interesting character. He harbors a strong sense of denial that weaves itself through most of his conversations. Although he appears to be very capable, even brilliant, when it comes to his professional endeavors, his communication on a personal level is severely lacking. While he tries to convince his wife not to leave him based on what he considers to be sound logic, he demonstrates how foreign the concept of interpersonal communication is to his rhetoric. Instead of taking an apologetic tone, he tries to cajole her into forgiveness without ever really fully admitting what a horrible husband he accidentally became.
As a whole, the film has enough depth and personality, despite Ivan’s lack of it, to make it worth watching. If you are looking for something that will make you think, Locke is the film for you.