Thursday, May 8, 2014

Locke [2013]

MPAA (Unrated would be R)  ChicagoTribune (3 Stars) (3 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (C)  Fr. Dennis (4+ Stars)

IMDb listing
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (G. Kenny) review
AVClub (A.A. Drive) review

Locke [2013] (written and directed by Steven Knight) is a remarkable in some sense truly "bare-bones minimalist" film that would be both a true film enthusiast's and A MORALIST'S delight. 

The film begins with a middle-aged construction engineer, Ivan Locke (played by Tom Hardy) at some kind of a construction site, coming to the end of day's work, coming to his car, a BMW (signalling early that he's no ordinary construction engineer but probably some sort of a project manager).  We see the sun setting to the West, but as this is somewhere in presumably Northern England, it's also starting to rain.

He enters the car, docks his cell phone to whatever "hands-free apparatus" his car would have.  We hear an automated voice referring to some sort of a "Bluetooth" (wireless) handshake/docking commencing as he starts his car.  And soon he's on his way.

Now where is he going?  Neither West (toward the Sunset) nor East (presumably toward a Rainbow as both the sun remains out if setting and it is raining).  Instead, he appears to be heading South.  Where?  Toward London, which we learn is about an hour and a half away.  Why?  Well that's what we begin to learn as we listen-in on the cell phone calls that he begins to make as he gets on some intercity expressway heading South from his place of work toward London.

We soon find out that he's heading to London, and not home to his wife and two teenage boys, because just before work's end, he had received a phone-call from a London woman, about his age, with whom he had a one-night affair some 7 months before, telling him that "her water broke" and asking him, since she was all alone, if he could come down to London to be with her for the birth of _their_ child.

Now it turns out, through hearing-in on subsequent conversations as Ivan drives toward London, that she, a rather lonely and generally depressed old sort, was pregnant with his child a few months earlier and Ivan had wanted to tell his wife about this (with all its attendant ramifications...) ever since then, but that he had "never found the right time" to do so.  And he did actually still think that he had "some time" (after all, she was only in her 7th month ...).  But now, she had called him just before this day's work with this news, and he decided that he's going to have to do this favor (of going down to be with this woman as she gives birth to his and her child) for the sake of both of them.

What to tell his wife?  What would _you_ tell your wife if you found yourself in this situation?  THIS IS A GOOD PART OF WHAT MAKES THIS FILM SO, SO FASCINATING. 

AS A CATHOLIC PRIEST counseling someone ASKING ME what to do, I'd PROBABLY TELL THAT PERSON to PERHAPS NOT LIE (though a SMALL _TEMPORARY_ LIE IN THIS CIRCUMSTANCE FOR THE SAKE OF, IN GOOD PART, THE WIFE'S OWN PEACE, I'd find completely understandable) but to FIND SOME PLAUSIBLE EXCUSE for not coming home ("Honey, the Project that I'm working on, requires me to remain here late tonight and I may not be able to come home until tomorrow.  BUT I WILL EXPLAIN TOMORROW."

Instead, _perhaps because he no longer trusted himself_ (He's had two months to break this news to his wife and HASN'T) Ivan decides that he's had enough of procrastinating and ON THE PHONE, WHILE DRIVING, WHILE IT'S RAINING, DOWN A RANDOM AND NOW DARK INTERCITY EXPRESSWAY WITH MODERATE TRAFFIC BUT SOME CONSTRUCTION tells his wife in a calm voice THAT HE'S NOT COMING HOME THAT NIGHT AND ... WHY HE ISN'T DO SO ... because he made this one mistake in 15 years of marriage 7 months ago and now he owes it to this woman, who is otherwise alone, and her and indeed his, child to be there when this child enters the world.

It's a remarkable conversation and AGAIN HONESTLY, GIVEN THE CIRCUMSTANCES, I ACTUALLY WOULD HAVE COUNSELED AGAINST IT.  This conversation, as painful as it was, deserved to be done FACE TO FACE at home.

But ... ;-/ ... that's _not the only thing_ that's going on.  HE'S A PROJECT ENGINEER ... INDEED, THE LEAD PROJECT ENGINEER for the construction of a new skyscraper being built somewhere in the northern England.  THE NEXT DAY, EARLY IN THE MORNING, THE SKYSCRAPER'S FOUNDATION WAS GOING TO BE POURED ... a complex concrete pour that we find out the local papers had reported was going to be "the biggest non-military concrete pour in Europe since the end of the Cold War."  AND HE HAS TO CALL HIS BOSS TO TELL HIM THAT HE'S NOT GOING TO BE THERE FOR IT EITHER (It was scheduled to begin early the next morning, with a tight synchronization of all sorts of cement trucks, local road closures, etc, etc).

What would you tell your boss?  He again tells him in a calm, straight forward voice, WHILE DRIVING IN THE RAIN (windshield wipers rhythmically moving to-and-fro clearing the water from the wind shield so that he could see) AT NIGHT (the glare of headlight beams and various other lights regularly appearing/disappearing on said wet-windshield) IN MODERATE TRAFFIC (the outlines and tail lights of cars as well as various traffic signs and occasional construction barriers appearing in front of him and at his sides), the same story that he told his wife: That he has to go down to London that night to be there for the birth of a child of his by a woman who was not his wife, that he did not even particularly know, but who needed and requested his presence at this very important event for her, for him and their child.

The Boss, incredulous, angry and in something of a panic, responds "Why couldn't you have just told me THAT YOU WERE SICK?" and tells him that he's going to have to report this up the line to the architectural firm "in Chicago" and that they're almost certainly going to "want his head" for this.  Ivan responds, that he knows, but that he preferred to just tell the truth at this point (even if it wasn't necessarily any of his boss' / the firm's business to know other than that he wasn't going to at the construction site that next day).

In the meantime, first the woman and then the hospital call that there are "complications with the delivery."  Again, calmly, while driving at night, in the rain, in moderate traffic down an intercity expressway with moderate construction on it, he deals with issues pertaining to the health and perhaps even future of both a woman he hardly knows and a child that he's found recently that he's having with her all because of his one-time moral failing seven months before.

Further, in the meanting, his wife is needless to say UPSET.  One of his teenage sons calls in the middle of all this happening wondering why he's not home yet 'because the game is on' and tells him how 'the game's going ...' ;-).  Then, even though Ivan's not going to be at the construction site the next day, the day of this GREAT AND VERY IMPORTANT "POUR" he has to instruct at least his SUBORDINATES "what to do" ... all while driving, while it's raining, at night, in moderate traffic on a random intercity expressway between somewhere in Northern England and London, on a road that's also having some moderate construction going on.

WHAT A MOVIE ;-) ;-)

How does it end?  GO, FIND AND WATCH IT ;-)

Honestly, what a remarkable discussion piece.

I would also add that the film makers make it RATHER CLEAR that Ivan is someone of _no faith_.  He's both fallen and has been trying to rectify things IN A MORAL FASHION not because he believes in God but because _he believes that this is the right thing to do_.  HONESTLY, VERY GOOD.  Yet for a believer or non ... I still think that this is A GREAT FILM THAT LEAVES VIEWERS WITH MUCH TO REFLECT ON and TALK ABOUT.

Outstanding, simply outstanding!

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