Image: IM Global, Shoebox Films
For a man who started off his career writing the script for Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Steven Knight has come a long way in the world of film and television. Best known as the screenwriter responsible for the wonderful Dirty Pretty Things and gritty Eastern Promises, his first venture as a director was the disappointing and dull Hummingbird. His latest film, Locke, is his chance to redeem himself and prove that he can make it as a successful director. Locke was certainly a risk with a highly unique concept, but thankfully it is executed beautifully and subtly by Knight, and is one of the best British films so far this year.
The concept of Locke is original and very different to anything you normally see in the cinema. Although it features one actor in a confined space for ninety minutes of real-time action, it is completely unlike Buried which also does this.
The story is simple; a construction worker (Tom Hardy) leaves work one evening and finds his life drastically changed by a series of phone calls he undertakes whilst driving. In the trailers the film is advertised as a ‘nail-biting thriller’, however this is misleading. It is certainly packed with tension, anxiety and anticipation, but a thriller it is not. Being more influenced by Waiting for Godot, which is deliberately referenced in the film, than Buried, it feels theatrical and play-like. It is a drama that centres around domestic issues, such as family and work, so do not go in expecting a full-blown car chase action sequence. The screenplay is subtle and ensures the drama is not too heavy through light comic relief. Still, you will find yourself with tears in your eyes at the tense and emotional climax.
Only one actor appears in the film – the wonderful Tom Hardy. Best known for playing Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, Hardy is just as comfortable in a low budget, British indie flick where he is the only actor on screen. He rises to the challenge and responsibility, providing a powerhouse performance which allows the audience to connect with a character who isn’t exactly likeable. We really feel his anger, pain and frustration visible in his eyes, giving the scenes with no speech a quiet power. The rest of the cast have the hard task of having to give a great performance through a phone. Packed with British talent, the supporting cast all do a wonderful job with Andrew Scott’s Donal providing laughs and Ruth Wilson’s pained wife intensifying scenes.
You would think a film that just stays in a car would be visually boring. However, Locke is handsomely shot, granting an eerie power to the motorway. Filmed in just eight nights with unique filming techniques, Locke is quite an accomplishment and proves that sometimes a minimalist take can work wonders. Less is certainly more in the case of this film, which is a wonderful achievement for Knight, Hardy and British cinema. Best seen on the big screen to appreciate the handsome cinematography, it is a story well captured with drama that will stay with you.
Locke opens on 18th April