There are films, very rare films, that linger deep inside your psyche' long after you've watched them unfold.
Writer/director Steven Knight's Locke is such a film, a mesmerizing film visually and a breathtaking film based almost solely upon Thomas Hardy's disciplined yet emotionally unforgettable performance as Locke. Locke is a man who seemingly has the perfect life with a well paying job and a loving family.
One choice could change everything.
If you've heard anything at all about Locke, a film that just opened at Indy's Landmark Keystone as it makes its way around the country on a limited nationwide run with A24 Films, you've likely heard that it is almost entirely a one-person film and almost entirely takes place within the confines of that person's moving BMW SUV.
That one person, of course, is Locke, and he's played to near perfection by Welsh actor Thomas Hardy, whom you most likely know primarily for his turn as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises but who has been turning in high quality work in a variety of studio and indie projects for a few years now. Watching Hardy here is mesmerizing and, yes, that word entered my mind a lot while watching Locke. For nearly all of the 85 minutes of Locke's running time, we are watching this man driving while talking on his hands-free phone to a variety of people as he becomes increasingly aware, at the same time that we do, that with each subsequent call his life is changing and very likely crumbling down.
You may think of the somewhat experimental Phone Booth, but don't. Locke is both incredibly different and much more successful in achieving its artistic vision. Locke makes calls and receive calls in seemingly effortless fashion, yet we watch these calls and we listen to these calls and we know that effortless is a facade and the facade is crumbling. To tell you too much about Locke would be an injustice, because this is a film that very much needs to be experienced with an open mind.
This is a film that needs to be experienced.
You may see more "entertaining" films this summer, but it's hard to fathom you will see a better performance than Thomas Hardy's truly unforgettable work here. He talks to his boss, whom he's labeled as "Bastard" on his phone, and he's shared the news of his choice. He talks to his wife of nearly 15 years (Voiced by Ruth Wilson). He talks to Bethan (Olivia Colman). He talks to his eldest son. He talks to Donal (Andrew Scott), a professional peer who provides the film with welcome fleeting moments of comic relief.
He talks. He listens.
I guess I'm not so sure he listens, but he remains present with each moment in the film and in each call and in each way that his one choice starts to impact his life in bigger and more impactful ways.
It's almost unfathomable that Thomas Hardy will not receive an Oscar nomination for his acting work here. This is acting at its absolute finest and most fundamental. This is acting that makes you think and feel and change and psychologically shift. This acting relies almost solely upon the actor without gimmicks or distractions or special effects.
This is Thomas Hardy and this is brilliant.
I want to tell you more about Locke, but that's as much because I'm absolutely dying to talk about the film and share the film and process the film and get these thoughts and feelings out.
Yes, I'm serious. Locke has that much staying power.
There are films that any true fan of film should see, whether you decide for yourself that it's a masterpiece or not. Locke is such a film, a bold and visionary film that actually lives up to what it means to be bold and visionary.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic