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My 12 for ’14: Locke and mad roads driving men ahead…

With 2014 coming to a close, we’re counting down our top twelve films of the year. Check back daily for the latest featured film.

On paper, Locke seems like an incredibly indulgent high-concept. Tom Hardy drives a car for an hour-and-a-half? He is the only actor who actually appears in the film? He spends most of the runtime on his mobile phone, rather than listening to his own preselected mix tape? Writer and director Steven Knight could at least throw in a sense of imminent danger. After all, Phone Booth had police cars and a sniper; Cellular had Chris Evans running around a lot; Grand Piano had… well, a grand piano.

However, Locke works beautifully. There are a lot of different reasons for the film’s success, but Steven Knight deserves a great deal of the credit as writer and director. The highest stakes in Locke are those furthest from the protagonist; the birth he is racing towards, the family he is racing away from, the construction job he has abandoned. We never leave the car. We experience those moments of tension and dread and anxiety and uncertainty right along with Ivan Locke. There is nothing to see beyond the lights of the car on the road, nothing beyond the disconnected voices on the other end of the line.


It takes a very singular vision to get a story like that to screen. Knight has enjoyed a long career as a writer for the screen. Most recently, Knight wrote Peaky Blinders for the BBC, a stylish crime drama set in twenties Birmingham starring Cillian Murphy. His theatrical scripts are of a similarly high caliber, including Dirty Pretty Things and Eastern Promises. However, Locke marks only the director’s second time behind the camera for a theatrical release. The result is staggeringly confident.

Locke is a movie that could easily have collapsed in on itself. Avoiding that sort of stumble would have been enough to mark it as a success. However, Locke not only avoids the many potential problems with the premise, but also surpasses all expectations. It is hard to decide whether the result is a delightfully thrilling drama or a terrifically dramatic thriller, but – regardless of classification – it is a damn fine piece of cinema.

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Non-Review Review: Locke

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2014.

Lock a character in a tight space for an extended period of time, crank up the pressure, watch the results. It’s a tried and true method of generating compelling drama – albeit one that depends on a wide range of variables. Films like Phone Booth and Buried demonstrate – to varying degrees of success – the appeal of such a format. If you can get a good actor in a tight space for an extended period of time and crush them, the results are inevitably fascinating.

At the same time, it’s a very delicate cocktail. The set-up has to be convincing, the script has to be tight without being contrived, the direction needs to be spot on, the performance needs to be perfectly modulated. Steven Knight’s sophomoric feature-length film manages to maintain this fine balance for Locke‘s eighty-five minute runtime. Essentially an hour-and-a-half locked in a car with Tom Hardy, Locke is a powerhouse of a feature, an utterly compelling and heartrending watch.


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You All Everybody: The Series Finale of Lost…

Those of us looking for an explanation of what the island is, how throwing a body down a well creates a smoke monster or why Locke getting off the island was a bad idea were undoubtedly a little disappointed (as I predicted they would be). In fact, I’ve spoken to a few at work, so I know that they are disappointed. However, I was still quite taken with The End, because it was… well, an end. It was a fitting coda to the series, wrapping up most of the major character arcs and giving the audience a sense of closure.

Excuse me, I was Lost in your eyes...

Note: This post will contain spoilers for the final episode of Lost which has already aired worldwide. Still, consider yourselves warned.

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