Dylan McKeon gives us the first of his picks of last year that you may have missed.
Buzzfeed have recently released their definitive list of the best movies in 2014 which went completely under the radar. There are some pretty astounding movies on the list like Jeremy Saulnier’s Blue Ruin and vampire flick, Only Lovers Left Alive. What jumped out at me the most however, was Locke.
Locke is a peculiar film. The premise is simple, but produces one of the best movies I’ve seen in quite some time. Tom Hardy takes the lead as Ivan Locke. What’s different about Locke is that Hardy’s face is the only face we see for ninety minutes. If nothing else, Locke is a testament to Hardy’s abilities as an actor. From now on, Tom Hardy isn’t synonymous with The Dark Knight Rises or Lawless. He’s Ivan Locke, the Welsh construction foreman.
Locke isn’t a glamorous film. It all takes place inside Hardy’s BMW where he makes a series of phone calls over a ninety minute period. The movie is set the night before the largest concrete pour in Europe, and Locke - who is the acting foreman - isn’t going to be there because he’s trying to deal with the biggest mistake of his life in two hours, all over the phone.
We soon see Ivan torn between his own personal values, his love for his family and his dedication to work. Over the course of the film we get to watch a human being’s life fall apart, and it all culminates into something spectacular.
What I like about Locke is that Hardy plays an extremely likeable character. We’ve all been in the same position, the two hours before a deadline when you feel like the world is falling apart around you and there’s literally nothing you can do. Locke captures this feeling of helplessness perfectly and we begin to pity Ivan no matter what he’s done.
What the audience sees is a man slowly being crippled as he tries to do his best for those around him, comfort his sons, calm his wife, talk a woman through labour and deal with a drunk Irishman (because stereotypes) and all the while he’s conducting the creation of the largest building in Britain over the phone.
What makes us empathetic with Locke is that while we see this side of him, nearly every other person he talks to sees him as cold and selfish. It’s unbelievably frustrating and we can’t help but empathise with him while he tries to pull together his life and ends up ripping it apart even more.
Ivan’s an extremely endearing character and we spend the entire film pitying the position he’s in.
What’s interesting about Locke is that Hardy laughs a grand total of once in the entire movie. He’s screaming in a Welsh accent, the drunk Irishman’s screaming back, you actually can’t help but smile for the simple reason that this is the only moment of joy in the entire film. It is of course followed by complete emotional decimation for Ivan. Woo.
Over the ninety minutes, Locke talks to eleven people on his journey, but the most interesting moments are when he’s talking to himself. We soon learn why Ivan is so caught up in his code of honour, trying to do right by everyone. We get a deeper insight into Ivan, as well as the absolutely disastrous relationship he had with his father.
Ivan blames his one shortcoming in his life on coming from the fact that “The Lockes were a long line of shit.” It soon becomes obvious why this building is so important to Ivan. It’s as if he’s trying to build a monument to say he was the Locke that broke the curse, he’s the one who ended the “Long line of shit.” We do have to pity him in the fact that with everything he’s doing, he’s trying to end that family trait.
While Locke’s talking to himself, he’s speaking to his father more than anything else. We very quickly learn why Ivan despises him quite as much as he does. This is where Hardy earns the awards. The look of disgust on his face in the rear-view mirror as he addresses his father - long since dead - is something else.
The script’s excellent and Hardy delivers the lines to his father with as much hate as you’d expect from the anti-Christ himself. Although, it is hard to tell someone you’ll dig them out of the ground and beat them to death again in a nice way, but this doesn’t take from just how much hatred Hardy gets into his performance.
Hardy’s stellar acting along with a script that keeps things interesting makes it hard to believe the whole thing is shot over just six nights. It’s been doing extremely well for itself in reviews getting a ninety one on Rotten Tomatoes and an eighty one on Metacritic.
For me, this is the movie of 2014 on acting performance alone. It’s not flashy, it doesn’t have a soundtrack you’ll be looking to download once the credits roll and it’s not going to clean up at awards ceremonies, but my good God, it is excellent.