August 27th 2014 04:38
For 80 minutes of screen time, writer/director Steven Knight seals us in a vehicle with a man, Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) heading up the M6 to London. Initially we don’t understand his motivations or intentions. But through a series of phone calls a clearer picture of Locke’s world resolves itself. Personal and work complications will ensure that this is a dark night of the soul for this man as his tortured morality seeks the purist path to compromise and minimal pain, neither of which may be possible.
Hardy, adopting a convincing Welsh accent, is remarkable in what is genuine tour-de-force. He quite literally carries the load of Knight’s daring premise and skilful execution, though the voice work of Locke’s interlocutors also contributes to the film’s credibility. The screenplay is equally good, endowing this troubled man with humility, perspective and decency even as he further commits to a course of action that may irreversibly peel back layers of his ordinary existence. Interestingly, the more complicated Locke’s life becomes, the less ambiguous are his motives. The path he chooses to follow becomes clearer it seems, more transparently righteous, even as – paradoxically – it becomes clouded by the same messy, overlapping entanglements that hamper all our lives.
Interwoven shots of an anonymous, clinical night encase Locke in the car that serves as a metaphor for the relentless forward momentum of our internal turmoil, the suffocating dimensions of the vehicle acting as a barrier against flirting with responsibility. With Dickon Hinchliffe’s pinwheeling, subtly charged score as accompaniment, Knight’s Locke (2013) becomes a masterfully judged case study in unease, a wordless human sound acting as a perfectly fitting coda against an otherwise ambiguous release of tension.
Locke opens in Australian cinemas on Thursday, August 28, 2014.