Sunday, 20 April 2014

REVIEW - LOCKE (STEVEN KNIGHT)


It's not really a matter of what has been deprived of us, and what we have been offered as replacement. In every film, there will be elements of constancy, details which make only the most minute changes, if any over its duration. In Locke, it would appear that Steven Knight has reduced his thriller conceit to the plainest, simplest, most minimalist form possible, yet it's not a matter of what he has done to fill in the gaps left by what he has stripped back, since there are no gaps. The physical space remains unaltered, and so too does the one actor whose face we are granted sight of, but the film is by no means spare nor lacking for interest. Knight posits this as the natural setting for his narrative, and so it is; from here, he is able to orchestrate the machinations of his mind as normal. We have evolved into a digital species, as wired to one another as to the wires within these electronic contraptions - the telephone is the secondary character here, or the conduit for a range of other characters. Knight's man-with-a-plan may be conventionally 'flawed', but it's testament to his intelligence as a writer that we do genuinely empathise with these disembodied voices as much as Locke himself. The plot he constructs is dependent on our empathy, since there's little of it actually there; essentially, this is the story of a particularly stressful car journey, since the dramatic banality (relative to one's expectations, or to the atmosphere of tension Knight skillfully mounts) hasn't much of the quality of real, concrete narrative. One might wish, then, that the film had continued past its abrupt conclusion, since too much effort has been invested in becoming acquainted with Locke to just let him drive away, in the end. That natural setting was one of confusion, and in acquiring something approaching clarity, it only leaves you craving more. Instead, we're offered artificial resolution as replacement.