British actor Tom Hardy, best known as Batman’s nemesis Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises,” wowed audiences Monday at the Venice International Film Festival in Steven Knight’s taut “Locke,” which was shown out of competition.
Critics praised the 35-year-old burly actor’s one-man tour de force performance. Hardy is the only person who appears onscreen; his costars, including “The Lone Ranger”s’ Ruth Wilson, are just voices he speaks to on the phone, a la Ryan Reynolds' 2010 film “Buried.”
‘“Locke’ is basically just Tom Hardy driving a car while making a bunch of phone calls, and yet this ingenuously executed study in cinematic minimalism has depth, beauty and poise,” writes Variety’s Leslie Felperin, adding it was a “finely tuned showcase” for Hardy’s "exceptional acting skills.”
Hardy plays Ivan Locke, a married man with two teenage sons whose personal and professional lives collide one evening. Locke leaves work when he learns a woman with whom he had a brief fling has gone into labor with his child. He promises to drive to the hospital in time for the baby, which means he’ll be missing an important concrete pour on a building the next day. He makes several phone calls while on the drive, including to his wife, who didn't know about the affair, his sons and his boss.
“If you are asking an audience to listen to one man talking for an hour and half, you had better make sure he is worth listening to, and minute-by-minute, Hardy has you spellbound,” said Robbie Collin in the Telegraph.
“He adopts, pointlessly, but brilliantly, a rich Welsh accent that is equal parts Richard Burton, Hannibal Lecter and Oliver Postgate’s Ivor the Engine narration,” noted Collin.
And CineVue’s John Bleasdale stated that Hardy and Knight ("Dirty Pretty Things"), who also wrote the screenplay, have created a “gripping piece of steering wheel (rather than kitchen sink) drama featuring a rich and complicated central character and a narrative which avoids cliche, abundant in both humour and heartfelt emotion. ‘Locke’ is a road movie with none of the generic tropes.”
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