It’s a brave director who makes a film focused entirely on one character – and an even braver actor who takes on the role.
Locke is that film. And the fact that it works so completely is due to the double-whammy partnership of director Steven Knight and actor Tom Hardy.
To put this in context Locke is the story of Ivan Locke, husband, father and construction manager who, in the course of one brain-frazzling night, risks losing everything he holds dear.
To say more would be to explode the delicacies and secrets of this astonishing film. It is astonishing for several reasons, but principally because it is set entirely within a car being driven by Hardy. And Hardy is the only person ever seen.
Ivan is revealed as a man at a distance from other people. On this particular night he has a list of things he must achieve. Driving to a hospital appointment, he has made a decision that will alter his life forever. And he has made it deliberately. There is nothing slapdash or spontaneous about this cool, calm and collected Welshman.
Hardy plays it in deliciously measured form. All crises – and there are many on this journey to oblivion – are dealt with in the same manner. It resembles a stage monologue – a theatre piece set in a car that is speeding to its destination with a desperate man at the wheel.
Ivan emerges as a control freak, particularly regarding his job. But he – and we – comes to realise that he is in a position to control nothing. He is riding a wave of self-delusion – this despite his best efforts to remain calm in the face of rising hysteria. It’s a study in helplessness.
Hardy gives a breath-taking performance of assurance and maturity. In delivering an external and internal monologue that comes close to madness he possesses all the power of a young O’Toole.
He and Knight are aided by a cast of disembodied voices – Olivia Colman, Ruth Wilson, Andrew Scott – that bring this mighty piece to the screen.
Quite unique, unforgettable, and the film of the year.
Star rating: *****