Sunday 11 May 2014

Locke by Steven Knight

Steven Knight is a British screenwriter — and now a director. I first became aware of his work with his script for Dirty Pretty Things, directed by Stephen Frears, an unusual and intriguing film. But he really registered on my radar with Eastern Promises, a tale of Russian gangsters in London directed by David Cronenberg and one of my favourite films of recent years.

Knight has a highly unusual background. He was primarily a TV comedy writer and created and scripted a successful comedy cop show for the BBC called The Detectives. Then he hit the jackpot by creating the game show Who Wants To Be a Millionaire. Not my cup of tea, but a huge success on British television and replicated around the world. At this point Knight was wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice and could have put his feet up and relaxed — he certainly never needed to work again.

Instead he began writing, then directing, an increasingly challenging string of movies, the latest of which is Locke, a masterpiece and one of the best films of 2014.

I had no idea what it was about when I went to see it, beyond a vague notion that it featured Tom Hardy at the wheel of a car. I'd assumed it was a thriller. But instead it's a startling portrait of a man whose life is falling apart, as he drives through the night towards London from a northern city, taking and making phonecalls as he goes.

Locke is an honourable man, under immense pressure, trying to do the right thing. The movie is suspenseful, deeply involving, and often hilarious. Tom Hardy, who has made a big impression in Inception and Lawless (not to mention as the masked baddie in the last Batman flick) is terrific.

He is the only person we see on screen, although there are some distinguished actors and fine performances on the other end of the phone. Knight's script is unremittingly brilliant, with superb dialogue, wonderful characterisation and profound emotional impact. An amazing and moving film, it takes place almost in real time (the movie runs 84 minutes, the drive to London takes something under two hours).

Shot with Hardy actually behind the wheel of a car, it's an impressive and beautifully crafted film. You can read about the making of it here. Don't miss this movie.

 (Image credits: the posters and stills are from Ace Show Biz, where the pickings were very thin compared to your average Hollywood blockbuster.)

No comments:

Post a Comment