Starring: Tom Hardy
Directed by: Steven Knight
Synopsis: Tom Hardy plays Ivan Locke, who in the course of a 2-hour drive from Birmingham to London talks on the phone to his colleagues, wife, sons and the woman whom is in labor giving birth to his bastard child. He also scolds and lambasts his dead dad whom he envisions in the back seat of his BMW.
What work(s): The tension between Locke and his work superior, Gareth, who is sweating that with Locke driving away from an historic and very important construction job, that the project will fail. Also the tension between Locke and his underling, Donal, who has to pick up the slack while Locke is away and that Locke has to coach him with the details of the concrete pour. He also has to make sure Donal doesn’t drink and screw up his new overwhelming responsibilities. The tension and emotion of Locke and his wife, who he just told over the phone that he had an affair and is driving to the hospital where the lady is giving birth. The whole movie is one tense and edgy drama with the choices and consequences of Locke making this one decision on driving away from his job and family to be there for the one mistake he made 7-8 months ago. Along the way he also has imaginary heated conversations with his own dead father, who abandoned Locke when he was a wee lad. To me, these worked the best because they are the real driving force behind the decision why he’s driving to London to be with the woman giving birth to his bastard child.
What fail(s): Well, on the one hand the whole movie from beginning to end is just Tom Hardy driving his BMW at night on a British highway. The only other actors are voices he talks to on the phone. If you can get past that concept then you’re good. On the other hand, this is a conceptually-based character-study with one man coming to terms with his life-choices so it really doesn’t fail too badly I’d have to say. I was never bored or annoyed that I was watching Bane drive for an hour and half since I knew going in what to expect and I also enjoyed the performance of Hardy slowly realizing that this 2-hour drive will change his life forever.
Overall: I heard nothing but good things about this art-house film starring Tom Hardy driving for an hour and half just talking on the phone. Going in I wasn’t even sure if it was a thriller or a drama. Well in a way it’s both. While the thrill isn’t a car chase or he trying to save a damsel in distress in the usual action-adventure sense of thriller this is essentially a car chase to save a damsel and also to save himself story. All throughout the movie I sat alongside Hardy and tried to figure out what could happen with each new phone call he received about the eventual outcome of his job, marriage and birth of his new child. All of these elements hung on a thin thread of either going right or breaking apart and failing. His marriage, obviously in shatters because of his infidelity but with each new conversation with his wife, we don’t know if he will still be married by the end or what his wife will do to him. There’s one scene where he crucially needs a cell-phone number to help a crisis at work and his wife denies him the number out of spite. Sure it sounds trivial in a thriller-sense of the word but it is a thriller nonetheless. There’s many scenes like this where his work, marriage and his upcoming child are thrown into crisis and he’s alone in a car trying to keep it all together to make it work. Apparently, he’s one of the best construction foremen in the UK and a master concrete technician (for lack of a better word) and that metaphor of mixing the right amount of concrete for the foundation of a building underlines every aspect of his life.
The other interesting aspect of the film is no matter who Locke talks to and whatever crisis is happening, he remains very calm, cool and collected. But when he hangs up he swears and gets agitated. Just a little anyway because things tend to get resolved soon or have the hope of being resolved. However, the only times he really gets upset or angry is when he’s talking to himself or the imaginary father who left him high and dry. It’s something he really can’t resolve and sees himself following in his father’s footsteps so much that he is willing to leave his job and family just so he doesn’t repeat the same mistakes with his new baby. Locke is hoping that his marriage will withstand this new crisis but the film leaves that ending ambiguous. But there’s a whole moralistic aspect to this film of doing the right thing despite the consequences and that’s what the real point of the film is.
Score: 8 Imaginary conversations with a dead-beat dad (out of 10)