...or, a documentary for people who spend 17 hours a day in their cars. (Trucks and spoilers use the right lane.)
Okay, first spoiler: You're no doubt wondering why Tom Hardy is sitting on the wrong side of his car. No, it's not because of some weird photo flipping thing, nor is it CGI; the movie was made in England, where apparently they drive on the other side of the road from us, and the cars' steering wheels are on the other side, too. Outrageous!*
I thought I would check this out as, if nothing else, a palate-cleanser after God's Pocket, and am I glad I did—Locke is a terrific movie.
The non-spoilery stuff: This movie made me think of something I once read about Alfred Hitchcock—that he would occasionally challenge himself to make movies to fit certain constraints (like setting a movie in a lifeboat). Locke, aside from establishing shots, takes place entirely in Ivan Locke's (Tom Hardy) car, with no other characters ever onscreen. That's not to say that there isn't interaction—the movie is packed with dialogue, all of which takes place over speakerphone as Locke tries to keep the various parts of his life from falling apart. If you're looking for action...well, depending on your definition of "action," this still might work, although it probably wouldn't be the movie for you. If you're looking for excellent dialogue and what amounts to a really good one-man character study, you're in the right place.
At first, the setting seemed to me like a bit of a stunt—everything in the car for almost an hour and a half (the time-scale of the movie is pretty much 1:1)? But it works really well—as the movie goes on, the setting feels more and more claustrophobic, and anyone who's driven any length of time in a state of emotional distress will be able to relate.
So, if you don't want to know what happens in the movie, stop here—and go see the movie for yourself. You won't be disappointed. If you want to know a bit more about what happens in the movie, keep reading, forewarned about spoilers.
The Titanic sinks, and Jack dies. Also, Rosebud turns out to be a sled. The hot chick turns out to be...well, still a hot chick, although not in the conventional, normative sense of the word.
Oh, and Locke spends the movie trying to keep his life together. On the eve of a major construction project, he leaves to drive to London to be with a woman giving birth to his kid. This is problematic not only because the company absolutely needs him on the job site, but because his wife and kids are expecting him home, with home being nowhere near the hospital where another woman is about to give birth (he feels a sense of duty—and not a whole lot else—to be there for the child ((he repeatedly refers to the baby as "my fault"))). To complicate matters, he never got around to telling his wife about the baby, and has to inform her while on the road to its birth. She does not take this well.
The action of the movie (aside from driving) is a series of phone calls. To his not-even-remotely-prepared assistant who must now oversee the project. To his house, to tell his son that he won't be home (mom isn't there to talk). To his boss, who is furious about his bailing on the job. To his...it's clear that she's not a lover in the traditional sense...to let her know he's on his way. Once all of the initial calls are made, that's when the "fun" begins. The assistant keeps calling because things are screwed up. His wife is, quite understandably, traumatized. The assistant fixes something. The hospital calls because there are complications with the baby. The kids call because he's not there. The wife calls to demand more information. The boss calls to tell him he's fired. The lover calls for something else. The wife calls to tell him he's not welcome back home.** Calls pile on top of calls, with the disembodied "You have an incoming call" voice that interrupts conversations adding to the claustrophobia. Locke's world is collapsing around him, and everything in the movie reinforces that feeling of things closing in.
I don't know if I've ever seen Tom Hardy in anything, so I didn't have any preconceived notions of his acting ability going in. I'll say this: he gives a damn fine performance as an almost stereotypically controlled (and controlling) Englishman who, in the end, can't control much of anything. And, with a few exceptions where the wife's dialogue is a bit too poetic by half, the voice acting by the rest of the cast is wonderful.
It's a weird movie to describe—it's so dialogue-driven that it's hard to talk about without turning to "And then he said this, and then he said this," so I'll simply re-iterate: go see it. You won't be disappointed.
*-That's obviously a joke, but to my eternal shame as both a completely unobservant touristy idiot and a complete novice when it comes to cars, I once asked an Englishman if there were any English cars that had automatic transmissions. I'd only seen stick shifts in the cars I'd ridden in, the ones I'd looked into on the street, and in TV shows and movies. He pointed out, in the politest way possible, that a) Yes they did; and b) I was riding in one. I'd like to say that I wasn't in the passenger seat when this conversation took place, and that the car hadn't been in motion for about ten minutes. I'd really like to say that.
**-This isn't an indictment of the movie, but rather of my attention span, but that bit made me think of the "I don't want you coming back to the house" trope, which I'm thankfully only familiar with through movies and TV shows. Is this common in real life? And how legal is it? I mean, he's in charge of a multi-million dollar construction company, so I assumed that he's probably paying for the house. If that's the case, the indelicacy of saying it right after admitting an affair aside, if he wanted to be a dick about it, could he legally say, "I paid for the house—if you don't want to be in there with me, get out"?