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Cinophile: LOCKE

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This column doesn’t often delve into new movies, but sometimes one just stand out from the crowd and demands to be noticed. Locke was only released last year, but already it is one of those must-see experiences that hopefully will be remembered for generations.

Tom Hardy already has a lot of fans and I do count among them. But most of his films don’t really show what he is capable of, certainly not to match his early work in Bronson. Then along came Locke. It pushes Hardy to a certain acting stress point: can he carry a movie in the most literal sense? No other actor ever appears in Locke – it’s just Hardy as he drives towards a destination late one night.

The film starts with Hardy’s Ivan Locke, a successful construction manager, getting into his car after presumably a hard day’s work. He’s supposed to be headed home and watch the football game with his family, but instead he is on his way somewhere else.

Meanwhile he has to arrange for the largest concrete pour in European history, which he won’t be able to attend because of where he’s headed.

The synopsis is brief, because understanding what is going on is part of the film’s allure. Locke is on his own, but he has conversations with people over his phone. These conversations relay the pieces of the puzzle for the audience.

Yet there is no major mystery or strange force at work here. Instead Locke is the exploration of the moment, of how our decisions change our reality and what it means to be true to yourself.

The result is a surprisingly powerful and almost hypnotic movie experience. Hardy does almost all of the heavy lifting, but the voice conversations are resonant, emotional and full of impact. This is not a single-character film, but it does take place in one location – Locke’s car – and you only ever see Locke.

Made as an experimental film over a very short shooting period, Locke is tight and edgy. It doesn’t quite qualify for the thriller genre it’s been tagged with, but that’s because the movie defies genre. It’s simply an experience – the kind that reminds you why you love movies.

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The entire movie was shot in 6 days, from 9pm to 4am – longer than the two weeks it took to write the script.
Tom Hardy’s irritability is often quite real. The car has a low-fuel alarm that would beep intermittently, interrupting him. the director keep those moments, but replaced the alarm beep with the ‘You have a call waiting’ phrase.
All the other actors called in from a hotel room and were recorded in real-time, so the scenes were kept as one-takes. The director would use this to hand notes to the actors, delay calls and allow ad-libbing, all to keep Hardy on his toes.
Locke did not get huge representation on movie circuits. But shot for a mere $2 million, it had no problem turning a profit.

Cinophile is a weekly feature showcasing films that are strange, brilliant, bizarre and explains why we love the movies.

Last Updated: July 20, 2015

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