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The Warsaw Voice » World of Movies » April 30, 2014
Film review
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April 30, 2014   
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Monodramas don’t really work on the big screen, especially if confined to a single location. But the gripping drama Locke, directed by 55-year-old Steven Knight, is an exception to this rule.

Knight directed only one movie before Locke, the 2013 action thriller Hummingbird, starring Jason Statham. In Locke, the protagonist, instead of fighting hordes of bad guys, battles with his own demons and wrestles with his life—in a struggle that seems doomed right from the start.

Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy—Inception, The Dark Knight Rises) is a successful and popular 40-something construction manager. We are introduced to him as he prepares to oversee a key building project that his boss describes as the biggest commercial concrete “pour” in European history, nuclear power plants aside. It’s the eve of the big day, but instead of going home to watch a soccer match with his wife Katrina and sons and enjoy beer and sausages, Ivan gets in his SUV and drives off to London, hoping to get there in 90 minutes. Seven months earlier, Ivan, a model family man, messed up and cheated on his wife for the first time in their relationship of 15 years. It was not something that he’d planned, a one-night stand with a hardly attractive and not exactly young secretary after a drink or five. Ivan confesses his guilt to his devastated wife on the phone. The 43-year-old secretary is now about to prematurely give birth to Ivan’s child, and Ivan wants to be there for her.

“She told me it was her last chance to be happy... she is so fragile,” Ivan says by way of explaining why he has decided to do what he believes is the right thing. Ivan, too, was born in similar circumstances. His father couldn’t care less about him until Ivan was 23. Alone in the car, Ivan “talks” to the parent he abhors. The hate he spits out and the determination not to repeat his father’s mistakes are what pushes him to get to the hospital, where his one-off lover is in labor. He has no special feelings for this neurotic woman, but a sense of decency is what keeps him going.

The 80-minute drive to London sees Ivan’s life implode. His loses his family when his devastated wife tells him not to bother coming home after his shocking confession. He also loses his job and career but, despite being fired, he manages to keep the situation under control by instructing a colleague what needs to be done to avert a disaster at dawn. Throughout the movie, Ivan talks to different people on his hands-free telephone, trying to save the day on all fronts. Whether he succeeds is anybody’s guess, because the ending leaves all questions unanswered.

One of the most promising actors of the last couple of years, Hardy does a fantastic job in carrying the entire weight of the movie on his shoulders. The conversations in the film may be banal and there are no flashy visual effects to speak of, but for 85 minutes the movie keeps you on the edge of your seat as you can’t help but relate to Ivan. This is an Oscar-worthy performance.

Locke is not one of those instantly forgettable movies. Not really recommended for teenagers, it gives mature audiences a lot of food for thought. As the plot develops, you might find yourself asking questions about your day-to-day, seemingly mundane life, such as why we hurt the ones we love when we try to be fair to total strangers. It also makes you wonder if getting over childhood traumas is ever possible.
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