Tom Hardy, eh? Look at the dude. Check his beardy chops, chunky-knit sweater (hey costume department - that's M+S isn't it?) and thousand-yard stare. If you haven't seen Locke, get your ass to the back of the class, it's a straight-fire classic. I blogged about it at the wonderful Author Allsorts and part of that blog is reproduced below:
The story's like this. I was alone in a hotel room many miles from home. Underneath the battered wall-mounted TV was an old curiosity – a DVD player – and down in reception were a lot of terrible films for guests to borrow. Hunting through the trash I found a gem: Locke.
Locke is one of my faves, a truly remarkable movie. It’s written and directed by Steven Knight. Its one actor, Tom Hardy, is always on screen. It has one location – the interior of a car. It is about ninety minutes long. For an hour and a half, we’re travelling south on the M6 while a single character makes phone calls, his life falling apart. It ends on the outskirts of London.
As I was watching, I kept thinking about my current WIP, a YA heist thing called Takeback. Not because of any similarity in subject matter though. My wife always gets to read first, and some months ago I’d given her a hotel-chase scene in which a porter liberates a suitcase from a penthouse apartment, escaping down flights of stairs through a maze of corridors and out onto the delivery bay via the kitchens. There, he meets a mysterious girl who hits him on the head. A conversation ensues. When I asked for feedback, my wife (clever and measured as always) said “It gets good when the talking starts.”
I kept thinking about that as I watched Locke. So much of visual media seems to be caught up in an arms-race towards the ultimate boss-battle; entire stories built around supposedly killer last-act set-pieces in which New York burns.
Locke represents the best of what scripted drama can do because all we get is talking. The conflict is in conversations and the gaps between conversations. We watch a man struggle with his conscience. At moments of anger or release, he monologues to an imaginary father sitting on the back seat. Then he makes or receives another call, staring at the road ahead and gripping the wheel.
When you’ve got a character as rounded, deep and flawed as Ivan Locke, you don’t need exploding cities, disintegrating planets, collapsing skyscrapers or hair-breadth ‘scapes in th’ imminent deadly breach. You just need conversations.
Cut to now.
Hey - what about that Tom Hardy, eh? Look at the dude. Check his beardy chops, weirdly-modern-for-a-period-piece oilskin raincoat (oi, costume department - did you just pick that up at North Face?) and thousand-yard stare. If you haven't seen Taboo, get your ass to the back of the class, it's a straight-fire classic. Much like Locke, Steven Knight scripts and Tom Hardy plays protag. But Taboo exists in my mind as a sort of anti-Locke, as an image in a super-dark mirror, as Locke's evil twin.
Rather than an individual, we have an ensemble cast. There's flippin' hundreds of them. And forget conversation, Hardy almost never speaks. When he does, his mutterings are barely decipherable. James Delaney forgoes dialogue in favour of biting out people's throats, removing tongues from those who have betrayed him and getting it on with his sister. Who needs conversation when you can have this sort of nasty visceral action?
As I was watching, I kept thinking about my current WIP, Takeback. I’ve been working on this scene in which porter liberates suitcase from penthouse apartment, escaping down flights of stairs, blah-blah, until mysterious girl hits him on head and conversation ensues.
Here's what I'm thinking. I should replace that conversation with a series of impenetrable grunts, turn the blow into a full-scale bloody rumble and conclude with my tattooed protagonist howling an Obeah chant at the moon, a bib of spit and blood plastering his shirt to his chest.
Whatever criticism you level at me, I can never be accused of (a) changing my tune, or (b) wearing my influences too prominently on my sleeve...