We here at SJF are privileged to see so many mainstream films on an annual basis that when we get an actual arthouse, our pulse tends to quicken. Sometimes smaller productions, free of the harsh eye of studio execs, can yield wonderful fruit. Unfortunately, the one-man Locke doesn't satiate our appetite in the least, even though it's an interesting theoretical exercise.
And that is where Locke loses us. Actors need continuing moments of conflict to boost their performance, when the outer world tussles with their inner self. Locke is utterly devoid of that - we know exactly how Ivan will respond to this pressure cooker, and it isn't exactly brilliant: lose the wife, lose the job, shack up with the ugly chick. It quickly loses our attention, languishing in a cycle of repetition and predictability. Its message - that one bad decision can ruin even the best of us - is pounded into our skulls with such frequency that by the time it's done we're numb to Ivan's situation. Frankly, we begin to wish badly for him, hoping that something will force a new layer to his situation and take him out of an early rut. But that moment never arrives, leaving the audience with a sense of emptiness that's akin to holding a literary bag.
Locke is the greatest exercise in minimalism we've seen in years, and yet it collapses early on from the clunky phone dialogue and lack of conflict. And while we love the arthouse feel, Locke gives us little desire to celebrate a good performance wrapped up in a boring and implausible script.
Locke is rated R for language and has a runtime of 85 minutes.
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