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Movie Beat: Steven Knight's "Locke" a heartbreaking drama
by JENNIFFER WARDELL
May 18, 2014 | 3079 views | 0 0 comments | 43 43 recommendations | email to a friend | print
© A24 Films
© A24 Films
slideshow

Rated R for language

Written and Directed by Steven Knight

Starring Tom Hardy, Olivia Colman, Ruth Wilson, Andrew Scott and more

Grade: 

Great drama can happen anywhere, even in the cab of a truck.

At least, it can if Tom Hardy and writer/director Steven Knight are driving. Their new film, "Locke," is a wrenching, beautifully nuanced drama that plays out entirely in a truck traveling along a British freeway. Though the setting is ludicrously simple, Tom Hardy's stellar performance and great support from a team of voice actors manage to bring an entire world to life within that small, familiar space.

Then, like all good dramas, they proceed to tear that world apart. Technically, the movie is nothing more than a man in a car, the camera following his journey in real time as he fields calls from various people via speakerphone. As you watch, however, you start to realize that it's really a chronicle of a man's life collapsing around him, exploring everything from what it means to be honorable to the degree which our pasts shape who we are today.

      In the center of it all is Hardy's Locke, a solid, unremarkable businessman of strong convictions. The basics of his biography are only quickly sketched, all through entirely realistic conversations with family members and coworkers, but it's Hardy's performance that really tells you about Locke's life. The steady, methodical way he explains things, his insistence on particular rules, tell you everything you need to know about his life.

      It also makes it harder to watch it all slip away. We spend the entire movie watching him slowly crumble, the shifts in Hardy's voice chronicling every crack and tear. No matter what you think of his choices, it's almost physically painful to watch him plead with  the voice on the other end of the phone, his cheeks wet with tears the other person can't see.

Knight has said in interviews that they simply worked Hardy's real-life illness into the filming, and the way they incorporate Locke's backstory opens the door to suggestions of stress-induced mental imbalance. Together, they add a surprising note of physical danger, further destabilizing Locke and making you wonder whether he can even stay on the road. More, does he want to?

Though  the film rises and falls on the strength of Hardy's performance, he's given excellent support by the rest of the cast. The best manage to tell an entire story with only their voices, communicating history and emotion so clearly that there's no need to see their faces. As Katrina, Ruth Wilson is a study in betrayal, anger and heartbreak. As Donal, Andrew Scott provides a necessary dose of comedy with what amounts to a verbal version of a delightful slapstick routine.

In the end, though, the story belongs entirely to Hardy's "Locke," and it's one that will linger with you for a long time to come.  

Want to know what Dan thinks of the movie? Check out his review here!

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