Sunday, May 18, 2014

Locke (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway


Tom Hardy, who is known for his aggressive and usually villainous roles (Bane, of The Dark Knight Rises), is a singular force of pathos, want and frustration here. He wonderfully handles the drama with the camera watching and indeed, makes it seem effortless.

Hardy is the lone star in director Steven Knight's insular and existential film "Locke." Hardy plays a Type A construction foreman who is rapidly going to pieces. While at first he has urges to go home to his wife Katrina, Locke resolves to attend to his one-time mistress Bethan, who is in the middle of having his baby at a London hospital. Though he falls short of professing his love for her, he feels bound to her and as she is needy and more than a bit fragile, Locke steels himself. In his controlling mind it is the right thing to do. After all, his name is Locke and he seals things up so that no air or wobbly emotion escapes.

To complicate matters, he resigns himself to being a no show at work as we would suspect, but his peers are only informed at the last minute and this makes for a whole heap of tempestuous tempers, given that the paperwork for Locke's milestone building is not yet approved.

The foreman's upper crust auto becomes a both an elitist life preserver and a crushing vice as events and egos expand and collapse around him with only a car phone as a transmitting beacon and  anchor.

The voice of Bethan (Olivia Colman) gets increasingly anxious, while Katrina (Ruth Wilson) is devastated. Locke's assistant Donal (Andrew Scott) is drunk and lackadaisical and his kids are too consumed by football to be much help.

Borrowing icy cues from Patricia Highsmith, J.G. Ballard and Steven Spielberg's eerie debut film "Duel," "Locke" depicts a man in an expensive rolling prison of sorts as the camera jitters and jags with every bump, wrenching to the left and right, compensating for each curve. As Locke is battered and jostled violently about in the car, director Knight seems to blackly parody Hardy's usual outings as the boxer and tough guy.

The man behind the wheel tries his best to pull it together but even during those instances where he is a stolid rock with the uncertainty of anger surrounding him, his very teeth  are transformed into abacus beads that calculate the odds, specifically  of not getting his way, whether he arrives as a top dog, or a scumbag without legacy, be it a child or a building to add to his masculine name.

Locke's BMW transcends into a Hitchcockian last refuge, a sable jet that is light and quick but oddly slow moving, a vehicle that is at first glance all speed and space, lighted like a capsule, yet stuck in the black morass of traffic and domestic argument, with all elements spiraling downward in ribbons of resentment.

The night is a thread that Locke must reach to reclaim his equilibrium restoring himself as a man in power.

Stephen Knight's success is in showing this bound man, deep in the noir of life, shut in a modern yet minimalist ark. There are no invisible Boogeymen, outside forces of evil or external dilemmas shown. Locke's irons were made by his own weak mental hand. As a consequence, his normally strong male fingers can only perfunctorily wipe a runny nose incoming with a cold.

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