Movies You Might Have Missed: Locke

Title: Locke
Release Date: 2013
Rating: R
Length: 85 minutes
Director: Steven Knight
Starring: Tom Hardy, Olivia Coleman, Ruth Wilson
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom

Locke is a movie that could almost have been a one-man stage play. The “action” is contained within an automobile and the dialogue is all via cell-phone conversations. The challenge would be adjusting the dialogue to be sensible with only half of each conversation audible. Regardless, this is another impressive performance by Tom Hardy in the title role.

Locke is a man who, on the eve of a record-setting foundation pour for a building whose construction he is overseeing, gets a call which sends him to his car to drive all night to another city. Subsequently he will miss the greatest and most important achievement of his professional life. Not only does the movie explore the whys and wherefores of his decision but also how this choice affects his relationship with his employer, employees, and his family. He made a bad decision in the past, and the effects of that decision have rippled out into the future and (if I may be permitted to mix metaphors) the chickens are finally coming home to roost.

The story is an intense character study where the moral character of the protagonist is slowly revealed by what we know of what he’s done, is doing, and will do. Beyond this, it’s slowly revealed why he makes these choices and what has shaped him into the man he is now. And if Locke is not wholly admirable (and he’s not) Hardy does a magnificent job of making him sympathetic.

The R-rating is for language (and maybe a little bit for the topics in question) The film is quite short, and for those used to action-driven plots it will probably feel unresolved. This, though, is as much or more about the character than the events of the plot which is there really just to provide a background for Locke. He makes choices, deals with consequences, and ends, if not wholly successful, then at least resolute.

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