May 30, 2014


I know this pic is blurry, but it really captures the sense of the film.

"Locke," starring Tom Hardy*--and only Tom Hardy--is being dubbed "Hamlet of the Highway," and it's exactly that. The premise of this one-actor film is simple and brilliant. The execution is also brilliant. A husband/father/expert construction foreman strayed once and only once in his marriage and got a middle-aged woman pregnant in a drunken one-night stand when he was working away from home. He has made a decision to "do the right thing" (according to him) and accompany this "fragile" woman (who has no one else in the world) as she gives birth. He is decidedly not in love with her.

The entire film is him, in his car, at night, driving to the hospital, placing and receiving hands-free phone calls through his dashboard computer. The many voice actors are so amazing that we think we have actually seen them onscreen and we don't even realize there is just one actor that we ever see. Perhaps, (as in the movie "Her") because of our tech-as-part-of-our-marrow-lives, we will be seeing more of this films substantially employing voice-only thespians. The daring use of this device totally works in "Locke."

We don't get bored with the visuals--not only because of Hardy's intriguing emoting, but because the camera is sometimes outside the car, the police sirens and menacing trucks and wooshing cars adding to the tension. The sparse and sparsely-sprinkled soundtrack is perfect. I don't think I've ever called a soundtrack "perfect" before.

To add to his woes, Locke must oversee an historical (because of its magnitude) multi-million dollar construction operation remotely from his vehicle during the trip.

"Locke" is a rich "conundrum" and journey film. Did Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) make the right decision? Does he make the right decisions all along the road? Should he have involved others in his decision? Was he actually acting selflessly or selfishly? What were his deepest motivations (the woman, the baby, being a better man for his own family, his own self-respect, because he's a control freak, proving something to his dead father, putting people before things/work or work before people/things)? Did he understand what he was risking when he started out on the journey?

I was hoping this film would be an ode to husbands/fathers/working men (for Father's Day!) and it is not quite that. I was alternately infuriated at Locke for what seemed to be his arrogance, cowardice and loutishness, and pitying him for his plight and even identifying with how he handled it. The question rises: How necessary is the truth when people don't really want to know it? Is total transparency always the best answer?

We are true voyeurs in this film, watching this poor man's every twitch, every use of tissue (he has a bad cold on top of everything). Are we supposed to judge him? Are we not supposed to judge him? It's easy to follow his logic and see his point of view (as it is to empathize with everyone else on the phone, too). Does one out-of-character act truly define us (even though it can mess up the trajectory of our lives)? Or is it how we react, our pre-meditated second move that defines us? The Founder of my religious congregation, Blessed James Alberione, was kicked out of the seminary. Had he not been given a second chance, my life would be very, very different. And so would the world. Worse off. St. Patrick himself had an indiscretion in his younger years that people wanted to use to derail his becoming a bishop. "Locke" drives home the point how much each of us is in need of mercy.

This is a man's film if ever there was one: all the burdens men carry, all the things they are responsible for, the weight of "father," the way men go about things, the way they get things done, the pride they take in their work, the many and varied gifts God has given them, the way they relate to other men, the way they relate to women, the collision of work and home, wanting good order, wanting things to go about "normally," so many responsibilities, family heritage.

Every man should listen carefully to Locke's wife's reaction, so when they are tempted, they can think of it. Alice Cooper claims to never have cheated on his wife even once in 37 years. "For a momentary pleasure I'm gonna risk my marriage to the woman I love the most and want to be with for the rest of my life? That's insane."

If you really don't like F-bombs, do not see "Locke." They're used like water--in that casual British Isles way. New Yorkers use them like water, too, but it sounds bad. Much of the time it's really quite appropriate to the dire goings-on, and--I never thought I'd say this** but in the mouth of the comic relief, Donal,*** it's really quite hilarious.

The filmmakers wanted Hardy and only Hardy to play this role. They couldn't have been more on the money. His accent is unusual at first (a kind of Northern England thing that sounds almost Irish), but I got used to it. Sometimes his accent sounds decidedly working class, at other times, snooty, but there's always something soothing and calm about it. Is he trying to mollify himself ultimately?

I won't tell you if the ending is happy or sad or even hopeful because Sister wants you to see this worthy film. I, personally, am conflicted about the ending. It's not what I predicted would happen, and I can't tell whether I like it or not. Which might be a good thing in a film. "Locke" certainly raises many, many human questions.
*Tom Hardy was Bane in "Batman."
**Except for hilarious use by Steve Martin at the rental car place in "Planes, Trains and Automobiles."
***Glorious English names like "Bethan" and "Gareth."


--I would love to know where this film came from, why it was made. Is it based on anyone's personal experience?

--This is a thoughtful, but not cerebral, human drama. Visceral too, but thoughtful.

--Locke's relationship with his sons is so detailed, so tangible, so realistic.

--"If you make one ****ing mistake, the world comes crashing down around you."

--"cider" is "booze"

--Tom Hardy is only 37, but is made to look like he's in his 40's or 50's. He really brings the gravitas--only once in a while you'll see a younger man's twinkle in his eye. But I totally bought that he was older.

--If my husband (if I had a mortal husband) ever cheated on me, I really think that I would always love him (I don't know that we have much choice as women or as Christians in that department) and forgive him (eventually), but I couldn't forget, and I just couldn't go on living with him. He broke the marriage. Men say the same vows as women, but they don't seem to mean them the same way. If the "double standard" is inevitable, then we should have different marriage vows for women and men, which of course makes no sense. If sex is "no big deal" to men? It needs to start being a big deal. Because it is. Because they promised.

--IS this one deed really out of character for him? Or is it a hidden part of his character? Is it part of his bigger need to justify himself, and therefore everyone/everything is subordinated to that? It makes us really ask ourselves: what is REALLY first in my life? When push comes to shove, what is REALLY first? (Not what I wish was first or think is first or say is first.)

--Locke is conscientious. He's reasonable. He's capable. He does love his family. He's a good man. But is that enough if everything has to be on his terms?

--God is mentioned a few times, and is present and lurking in the film.

--Both women in the film show what a total commitment we need from men, personally and when children are involved.

--Alcohol abuse is a mighty player in the lives of Locke, Locke's father, Donal.

--Oscar worthy? In every way, except cinematography which was good but not great, especially exterior shots. Otherwise, this is just one big fat Oscar.


  1. Part or all of this post was stolen by the blogger at He did it to me too (and several others as well.) His blog needs to be taken down! As of today, I have been unable to contact him. Perhaps you will have better luck. Just thought you should know that someone is stealing from you. He seems to steal anything superhero related.

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