August 13, 2014 Leave a comment
So I’m not entirely sure, but I think the moral of the story is that when you have an affair, make sure to leave your mistress alone and scared in the maternity ward and continue lying to your wife. Sure, one might say the moral is fidelity, but infidelity is in large measure biological, while reactions to infidelity are social constructions, in a purely literal sense, the wife’s insistence on the traditional all or nothing approach to monogamy is the wrecking ball here.
Thankfully, this film is metaphor rather than a dubious morality tale. Whether you think the metaphor is too forceful or not, it is not incidental that Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is a construction site manager. As he at one point stresses, even one slight deviation in a skyscraper’s foundation can be catastrophic. The film, more or less in real time as Locke drives to London, balancing family, mistress and business over the cell phone, is an act of watching his life crumble due to cracks in his foundation.
As a basic concept, this is a powerful one, because it is really true of life that momentary lapses of judgement, or often even things out of one’s control (as some of Locke’s challenges here prove to be), can fundamentally alter the path of one’s life in irreconcilable ways. Key the the story’s effectiveness is that once you take his sexual indiscretion as a given, he’s trying to be a stand-up guy, being there for his imminent child even though he has no affection for the mother. It is his noble effort at least as much as his potential vice that destroys him.
In terms of effectiveness though, I did feel held back by a couple things. Hardy’s accent here just has a certain off aspect to it. While the phone conversations mostly work as the structure of the dialogue, a few scenes where Locke vocalizes comments to his father, who we learn was never there for him, fail pretty badly. I get the importance of his father as driving his own need to make this choice to drive to London, and driving his own insecurities, but the execution of these scenes just feels out of place and I do feel like the possible suggestion that his father’s absence is the crack in his foundation is a bit traditionalistic. Ultimately Hardy does pull off an engaging enough performance that combined with the basic ideas makes it a worthwhile film, but it doesn’t really pull things together just right to be more than that.