00:00 May 25, 2014
By: David Vicari
[Courtesy of A24]

*** out of ****

Locke is an absorbing character study with a commanding performance by Tom Hardy. The stunt ofthe film is that it all takes place in a car on the freeway. Ivan Locke (Hardy) is driving to a hospital where a woman is having his baby, and the woman isn't his wife. While he drives, Locke has conversations on his car phone with the woman about to give birth, his wife and his second in command on a major construction job that is happening the next morning.

Locke is written and directed by Steven Knight, the screenwriter of Dirty Pretty Things (2003) and Eastern Promises (2007). The movie is like a riveting stage play. I can totally see Hardy on stage in a chair and pretending he is gripping a steering wheel. Hardy is the only actor we see on screen, but the other actors who lend their voices for the phone conversations, like Olivia Colman, Ruth Wilson and Andrew Scott, deliver fine support.

It's visually arresting, even though it takes place in a car and on the highway. Cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos plays with light, shadows, and reflections bouncing off glass. These stylistics fit the film well, never seeming forced. It doesn't feel like the filmmakers felt they had to come up with crazy shots for fear of the audience being bored with the limited location. The visuals fall in naturally, giving the viewer a feel for traveling on the interstate at night.

Yeah, the entire-movie-in-a-car thing is a stunt and the film is slightly pretentious, but in the end, it stays with you long after you walk out of the theater.

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