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Blu-ray Review: Locke

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This is quite an extraordinary film. I first saw it in the cinema and was very surprised to discover that Locke is not the thriller it has been (misleadingly) sold as, but rather a character drama about a man who is travelling in order to be present at the birth of a child he has fathered via an affair. The drama entirely takes place within a car, with our leading man (Tom Hardy) the only onscreen speaking role. Every other character talks through phone conversations.

This is like a very streamlined Mike Leigh drama, with excellent and humorous voice work from Olivia Colman, Ruth Wilson and Andrew Scott. It’s blend of serious situations and black comedy makes this a deliciously addictive and compelling piece of drama. It’s actually closer to a radio play than cinema, though through Hardy’s magnificent charisma it still works as a feature film.

When I first saw this film in the Vue Cinemas Stratford in East London the screening was full of groups of young men, clearly expecting (helped along by the deceptive marketing) to see Hardy in something resembling Bronson or The Take. They were confronted with something entirely different and audibly aired their dissatisfaction. Of course, a distributor’s misselling of a film to the public is no excuse for bad cinema etiquette, though hopefully its Blu-ray release will provide viewers with a peaceful viewing environment free from thugs who thought they were going to see a violent action thriller.

This is so far and removed from anything Hardy has done before it is indeed surprising to see him in something so restrained. Director Steven Knight also contributes a marvellous screenplay (a refreshing change after his awful script for Closed Circuit last year). It’s interesting to see him pushing against the boundaries of cinema and experimenting with what good storytelling can do.

A note on the release: Lionsgate's Blu-ray release of Locke is first-class. Considering this film is entirely shot at night, black levels are perfect with deep blacks and glowing lights amid the darkness. A brilliant release.

Locke (2014), directed by Steven Knight, is released in the UK on Blu0ray disc and DVD by Lionsgate, Certificate 15.


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