Directed By: Steven Knight

Starring: Tom Hardy

I'm a huge proponent of bold, innovative filmmaking.  I'm all for writers and directors tapping into their creative juices to bring us unique cinematic visions that blow moviegoers away. That's why I've been so intrigued with Steven Knight's indie drama Locke.  The concept of a movie taking place solely from the front wheel of a car is undoubtedly challenging, but I believed it could be far more rewarding when I first learned of the film.  It certainly helps that the lead for this one-man show is Tom Hardy, who many of you may remember from his villainous turn as Bane in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises some two years ago or his performance as MI-6 agent Ricki Tarr in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy back in 2011.

Nine months ago, construction foreman Ivan Locke (Hardy) made a mistake and was unfaithful to his wife on one fateful night.  On this night, that decision is coming back to haunt him.  With the imminent birth of his child, Ivan abandons his job and his family.  He gets in his car, turns on the ignition, and hits the road for a two hour trip from Birmingham to London.  Throughout the night, he converses with his wife and his co-workers.  Revealing his infidelity and opting not to take a sick day, Ivan's night descends to hell.  Because of his revelations, he jeopardizes his family, his job, and his home.  Meanwhile, Ivan has heated conversations with his long dead father whom he imagines to be in the back seat of his car.

Locke is one bold cinematic experiment.  Thanks to a rich performance from Tom Hardy, it mostly pays off.  As our titular main character, Hardy gives a compelling, brooding portrayal of this man on a downward spiral.  To do the honorable thing and right a wrong he committed some nine months prior, Ivan loses his job, his family, and his home.  More importantly, he has daddy issues.  Presumably the child of his father's own affair, Ivan got no love in his childhood and is seemingly demonstrating this by having rather intense monologues with his imaginary father.  Carrying a movie on his own with no other person on screen and occasional phone conversations with voice actors requires a consummate performer, and this is exactly what Tom Hardy gives us.

There are several themes that are pervasive throughout Locke.  Of them, fatherhood and manhood are at the front and center.  His noble sense of what these two things mean belies Ivan's actions.  More importantly, the fact that his father didn't do the right thing when he was born is what drives his actions.  While it's not exactly honorable to tell his wife over the phone that he cheated on her and is having a baby out of wedlock (especially on the night of the child's birth), owning up to that mistake and being a father to the innocent child is.  It's also the manifestation of Ivan's core beliefs about what it means to be a good father.  Other themes Steven Knight touches upon in the film include family, personal responsibility, and work-life balance (or a lack thereof).

Locke is a cinematic endurance test.  As moviegoers embark on this 85-minute car ride, we are inundated with a litany of phone conversations that typically end badly for our titular character.  We get front row seats to Ivan's downward spiral to the seventh circle of hell as he deals with his daddy issues by trying to do what he believes to be right.  However, Locke is a car ride.  Like any road trip, good or bad, there are times when you naturally want to get out of the car and take a break.  This challenging, occasionally humorous indie experiment gets a strong 0.06% rating.  Have a few glasses of Viognier with this one.