Director: Steven Knight
Locke could easily have been defined by a single gimmick - a film set in one location, with only one actor to be seen on screen the whole length of the story. It is about a man in his car, driving along a highway, talking to various people on the phone. In lesser hands the temptation to have the car stop, or turn around or even crash into a ball of fire would have undoubtably been great. Thankfully, Knight trusted his story and his actors to make the material as enthralling as possible.
The script is structured in a really clever way, feeding us little
pieces of information with each phone call. We change our opinion of Ivan several times over
the courseof the film, moving from sympathy, to judgement, and then admiration. Tom Hardy is wonderfully understated as Ivan Locke. He plays Ivan as Welsh, and the accent works to heighten the gentle determination of the character. His interactions with the other characters on the phone are delivered well. Each actor makes their character distinctive simply through their voice, though if we are really lost their name pops up on the phone as they ring.
Knight and his cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos use the external street lights and the windows of the car to give texture to the images. The light moves through the vehicle, casting coloured light and shadow on Ivan's face, or obscuring it in the reflective windows.
The film this is most similar to is Rodrigo Cortes' Buried, but has less of that film's claustrophobia, and tension, and more of an emphasis on performance and character to maintain the audience's attention. It is a masterclass of acting from Tom Hardy, and demonstrates how a single setting need not hamper the visuals of the story.