In Films by James Hay - Cinema Editor

Meet Ivan Locke, construction foreman, devoted father and loving husband. That’s how we meet him anyway. Apart from a glimpse in the very opening scene there is no one else on screen but Mr Locke for the film’s intriguingly succinct 85 minutes.

Ivan is driving home from work, just like any other day, when he suddenly turns right when he’d normally turn left at a set of traffic lights. Literally at a cross roads. This begins the gradual unravelling of the story, as we learn more and more about the reasons behind this decision, and, ultimately, of his life.

This is bold filmmaking, not because of any groundbreaking special effects or sweeping camera work but bold because it dares to trust its story, its director and lead actor. That director is Steven Knight and despite the obvious risk of claustrophobic limitation (we never leave the confines of the car) he creates a wonderfully expansive scope to Locke’s story, making it feel very real and immediately intense.

It’s Tom Hardy that drives the film, as his commanding central performance completely disarms and embroils you in his increasingly desperate plight. He’s not alone (well, actually he is), as his supporting cast – the always good Olivia Coleman, the exceptional Andrew Scott and a fragile Ruth Wilson – join him through the medium of his car’s in-built telephone system. An ingeniously simple use of dramatic convention, as the car starts to take on a character of its own, growing into the story as we spend more time, with Locke, in it.

What you do, the decisions you make, affect the people around you. Honesty is the best policy but at what cost? If doing the ‘right’ thing by one person destroys the lives of others, is it still doing the right thing? These questions form the moral core of this wonderfully simple gem of a film, making it much more than the sum of its parts.

Locke is cinema as it could be: brave, different, thought-provoking and really very human. Go see it, it’s interesting and, hopefully, will leave you thinking about whether you turn left or right…