Locke –A Film About Being A Man

January 25, 2014 : 4:24 pm | by Zach Toll

Die HardRambo, Dirty Harry, Remember the Titans: these are manly movies, or, at least, movies centered around men and masculine ideals. AMC might even call them “movies for guys who like movies.” You protect the weak, justice guides your every move, and you’ll even use violence to fight for what’s right when necessary.

I don’t know about you –maybe you were raised by a group of marines in an active combat zone –but I know plenty of men who haven’t had to decimate a terrorist cell to claim and identify with their masculinity. For most people, being a man comes down to handling your business, putting food on the table, and managing your (inevitable) mistakes. (Not to imply that women can’t do those things; this is description, not prescription.)

Riiiiiiiiiiight.

Riiiiiiiiiiight.

Enter Ivan Locke, the protagonist of Steven Knight’s Locke, a construction foreman with one nuclear family and a baby momma on the side, in the middle of labor. And he’s also supposed to be overseeing one of the biggest concrete pours in European history, but he can’t be on site because he has to handle the whole illegitimate child thing. Just your average Tuesday, am I right, fellas?

The whole film takes place in Locke’s car, a BMW X5 that sounds like it’s a diesel but the sound editing around the car is a little off and I’m a nitpicky grouch. He drives his bimmer from the north of England all the way to London to be with the mother of his other child and never breaks the speed limit. The story unfolds as Locke has phone calls with his wife, his son, his boss, the employee directly under him, his baby momma, the hospital, and has imaginary conversations with his deadbeat father.

Locke understands the magnitude of his situation; he cheated on his wife (and, by extension, his family), he’s bringing a baby into the world with a woman for whom he has no feelings, and he is jeopardizing a construction project worth well over $100 million. These are mistakes a man must deal with, unlike a boy that broke a couple hundred dollars worth of merchandise by tripping over himself in an Anthropology once. He’s determined to be there for his new son, still be there for his family, and be there for the build, even if only with his voice for guidance.

In addition to showing a refreshingly down-to-earth take on masculinity, Locke exploits film uniquely. The story would work equally well as a book, and, to a lesser extent, as a play. Viewers follow the hero in his car, and other characters come and go only as phone conversations. In this respect, it bears a striking similarity to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (the play, not the movie) and Waiting for Godot. Knight justifies his use of film by showing the exterior of Locke’s car and other activity on the highway, which also adds to the film’s sense of tension.

This is one of the best films I’ve seen at the festival. It had me on the edge of my seat, and Tom Hardy makes for an excellent repentful cheating bastard. Check it out if you get the chance.

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