Directed by: Steven Knight
Written by: Steven Knight
Produced by: Guy Heeley & Paul Webster
Other cast: Tom Hardy, Andrew Scott
Release date: 18 October 2013
Premiere date: 2 September 2013 (US)
Running time: 85 min
The evening before he must supervise a large concrete pour in Birmingham (the largest non-nuclear facility concrete pour in European history), construction manager Ivan Locke receives news that sends him driving the two hours from Birmingham to London, but even further from the life he once knew. Making the decision that he has to make, he then calls his wife, his sons, his co-workers and boss telling them the secret that he is bearing and trying to keep his job and family intact. But even more importantly, he will have to face himself and the choices he has made.
Tom’s Character: Eddie Locke
Eddie is one of Ivan Locke’s sons. He and his brother eagerly are awaiting their father’s arrival home to watch an important football match. Both of them call him separately with updates on the match over the course of the two-hour drive.
Tom Hardy as Ivan Locke
Olivia Colman as Bethan Maguire
Ruth Wilson as Katrina Locke
Andrew Scott as Donal
Ben Daniels as Gareth
Tom Holland as Eddie Locke
Bill Milner as Sean Locke
Danny Webb as Cassidy
Alice Lowe as Sister Margaret
Silas Carson as Dr. Halil Gullu
Lee Ross as PC Davids
Kirsty Dillon as Gareth’s wife
Locke is a 2013 British-American drama film written and directed by Steven Knight. The film stars Tom Hardy in the title role – the only main character seen on screen, as he carries on a number of speakerphone conversations with characters voiced by Tom Holland, Olivia Colman, Andrew Scott, Ruth Wilson, Ben Daniels, and Alice Lowe.
The film premiered at Broad Street in Westside, Birmingham at the 70th Venice Film Festival on 2 September 2013. The film had a limited release in the United Kingdom beginning on 18 April 2014, and grossed $5 million worldwide. Locke received critical acclaim, particularly for Hardy’s performance. Hardy won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor for his performance.
The evening before he must supervise a large concrete pour in Birmingham (the largest non-nuclear facility concrete pour in European history), construction foreman Ivan Locke learns that Bethan, a colleague from a job in Croydon with whom he had a one-night stand seven months previously (which resulted in her becoming pregnant), has gone into premature labour. Despite his job responsibilities and although his wife and sons are eagerly awaiting his arrival home to watch an important football match, Locke decides to drive to London to be with Bethan during childbirth. Locke never forgave his father for abandoning him as a child, and he is determined not to make the same mistake, even though he has no relationship with, nor any particular feelings for, Bethan.
Over the course of the two-hour drive from Birmingham to London, Locke holds a total of 36 phone calls with: his boss Gareth; his backup work colleague Donal; Katrina – his wife of 15 years – to confess his infidelity; his sons, Eddie and Sean, who call him separately with updates on the match and (eventually) the worrisome breakdown of their mother; St. Mary’s maternity unit medical personnel, Sister Margaret then Dr. Gullu, who are working with Bethan through some troubling complications; the council head, Cassidy, and local police authority, PC Davids, required for the road closures needed to allow the 225+ concrete trucks to properly access the site; and with Bethan to reassure her during her labour. During these calls, he is fired from his job, banned from his house by his wife, and asked by his older son to please return home. He coaches his assistant Donal through preparing the pour despite some major setbacks, and has imaginary conversations with his dead father, whom he envisions (unseen onscreen) as a passenger in the car; he berates his father for abandoning Locke’s family, and vows he will not repeat that mistake (despite abandoning his wife and sons in real-time). When he is close to the hospital, Bethan calls to share the cooing of the baby, having had a successful birth.
Almost the entire film takes place within a BMW X5, which was pulled down the M6 motorway on a low flatbed trailer for most of the shoot. Shooting took place in real time, over just eight nights, with the crew only taking breaks to change the three cameras’ memory cards. Ivan Locke is the only character to appear onscreen; the others are only heard on the vehicle’s speakerphone, with their parts also recorded in real time (Locke’s vehicle and road noise included) as they called from a conference room that served as the multiple “locations” of the various characters.
Locke was shown out of competition at the 70th Venice International Film Festival and then in the Spotlight program in the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
It was released on 18 April 2014 in the United Kingdom, where it earned $3,264,654. On 25 April 2014 it opened in the United States and earned $1,375,769. The film was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on 12 August 2014.
Rotten Tomatoes reports that 91% of 200 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 7.7 out of 10. The critical consensus states: “A one-man show set in a single confined location, Locke demands a powerful performance – and gets it from a never-more-compelling Tom Hardy.” The film has a score of 81 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 37 critics, indicating “universal acclaim”.
Olly Richards of Empire awarded the film 4/5 stars and said: “There are films to see on huge screens, but this is one that almost cries out for a small cinema, surrounded by total blackness. It’s a daring experiment brilliantly executed, with Tom Hardy giving one of the best performances of his career”.
In his book How to Watch a Movie (2015), David Thomson singles out this film and says: “No film I’ve seen in recent years is more eloquent on where we are now, and on how alone we feel. There is little left but to watch and listen.”
For his performance, Hardy won the Best Actor Award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.