Astrology: Film: Review: ‘Locke’ (2014)

A24 Films

A24 Films

There’s no end to the drama that can place in the confines of an automobile. Drag racing, sudden death and frisky mayhem in the back seat are only a partial vehicular legacy. But if you’re looking for the “Mother of Car Movies,” it’s Locke, a riveting piece of cinema in which the protagonist deconstructs his entire life while navigating on four wheels.

Directed and written by Steven Knight, and set in England, Locke has a key car scene, and it happens to be a long one. That’s because it’s essentially the entire film which, at about 85 minutes, is meant to play out in real time. The movie’s sole on-screen character is Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy), who’s driving solo from Birmingham towards London. He’s basically in his BMW both when we first see him and finally take leave of him. And his only interactions with people (voiced by Olivia Colman, Ruth Wilson and Andrew Scott, among others) are through a hands-free device: gut-wrenching conversations, all.

His every word uttered, every decision made, and the unique reason for his drive to London are tied to an irresponsible action from his past which Locke owns up to and explains through these calls. True to the movie’s title, the guy is genuinely locked into his new trajectory, as though imprisoned by the tight volume of his vehicle’s interior. And, with a nod to his philosopher-namesake – John Locke, who believed that it’s essential to guard against causing unhappiness or pain to others – Ivan has, he believes, espoused the higher road (literally) to set about making things right and redeeming his own father’s failures.

What we see from Locke, then, is his Saturnine, no-nonsense and even unfeeling just-the-facts communications with others, based on his personal scenario. A highly respected specialist in the building trade, Locke tells those in charge he will not be on the premises to oversee a massive concrete pour to which he had contractually committed. Instead, he talks procedure through with a rightfully panicked and insecure underling. In dealing with overwhelming obligations, which are the domain of Saturn, Locke, in the end, must architecturally reconfigure and shift the weight of his loyalty, also a valued Saturnine trait. In his case, it’s not only to one’s professional superiors but also to his wife (Colman), children and the demands of the archetypal family, ruled by the Moon.

In terms of emotional tonnage, you can’t get much more concrete than this mind game Locke seems to be playing with himself.

As might be expected, though, his philosophical pivot hardly satisfies everyone. In fact, the philosopher-Locke premise – that we need to keep those around us free from misery – is bound to disappoint certain factions. Theoretically, the language of reason – which both Lockes try desperately to use as currency – is tough to master.

Hardy’s Locke, portrayed here as an ethical Saturn-ruled Capricorn much older than his years, demonstrates in fewer than 90 minutes that life, lived morally, allows no shortcuts. Not even the Deity can be trusted with concrete, he says, at one point. Yet he’s willing to abandon a career-pinnacle project which would all but guarantee a highly successful outcome in favor of what, in his mind, is a greater conduit to Saturnine self-respect.

Locke, whose sole character is the archetypal Planner, demonstrates, in the end, that even a rigorous master blueprint designed to inflict the least amount of pain will inevitably come up short.

Astrology Film Rating:☽♄ (Moon, Saturn)

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