What I Learned Listening to Steven Knight’s ‘Locke’ Audio Commentary

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Locke audio commentary
Photo: A24

I review so few new Blu-ray titles, outside of Criterion and newly released catalog titles, largely because the turnaround time on today’s movies is so quick you hardly get a moment to breathe, let alone find time to reassess a film or have enough separation to find something new in them. So, when the opportunity to rewatch a movie from the current year arises I typically pass, unless there’s a compelling enough reason to revisit it. Thankfully, Lionsgate has released Steven Knight‘s Locke, easily one of the best films of 2014 so far, with an audio commentary from Knight and I’ve already dug in and found some interesting nuggets.

[amz asin=”B00KH57UVA” size=”small”]As I have in the past, such as with David Fincher‘s commentary on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (read that here), I listened to the commentary and took a series of notes, jotting down interesting tidbits and factoids.

Some of what Knight had to say was very similar to what he told me in my interview back in May, but a lot of it was new to me, or extensions of what I’ve already read on the film.

With that said, let’s begin and just know, if you haven’t seen the movie yet there are bound to be some spoilers in here, though I’m not entirely sure this is a movie that can be spoiled.

Locke audio commentary
Photo: A24

The production used two BMWs for two weeks for the shoot, but there was no deal with the car company, though Knight admits to wishing he had struck some sort of deal considering how loving he was with his shots. The reason they went with the car was because it had plenty of room for the cameras.

As for the shoot, the film was shot in sequence 16 different times with three cameras capturing Tom Hardy‘s performance each time along with a variety of insert shots such as views through the rearview mirror and from a seated position in the back seat. The actors you hear on the phone are all in a hotel room recording their side of the phone conversations while, as Knight says, “drinking red wine and eating biscuits“.

The had to pull over to the side of the road every 27 minutes because they were using RED cameras with a memory card that lasts 30 minutes. Knight describes it as being sort of like a Formula 1 pit stop where they would change the memory cards, change the lenses, change the angle and then set off again. Throughout the stop, Hardy would be left alone to stay in character and once everything was set they hit the road and pick up where they left off.

Considering how the film was shot, most of Knight’s direction was done in rehearsal, leaving the majority of the shoot up to the actors.

Locke audio commentary
Photo: A24

The name Ivan Locke for Hardy’s character was a nod to philosopher John Locke and while Ivan is not Jason Bourne or James Bond, Knight sees him as being heroic in other ways, though I think his decisions are certainly debatable by the film’s end.

Additionally, the reason Ivan is blowing his nose and drinking cough syrup throughout is because Tom Hardy actually had a cold during the shoot and instead of trying to hide it they decided to use it, much like several other aspects of the drive, such as…

Locke audio commentary
Photo: A24

Knight refers to this shot specifically, saying he has no idea where it came from, but simply sees it as a happy accident and an example of what happens when you give yourself over to chaos.

Locke audio commentary
Photo: A24

Additionally, while some of the police seen in the film were actual police responding to a call, at other times it was the police escorts during the drive down the motor way and they would occasionally get bored and zoom by, lights flashing, hoping to get into the film. Knight liked it and it worked and would sometimes make it into the film. Construction zones and traffic jams were treated similarly, hoping to maintain a certain level of authenticity.

Locke audio commentary
Photo: A24

At one point in the commentary Knight mentions a noise, like a small buzz, that would occasionally be heard in the car and it’s a noise they couldn’t figure out where it was coming from or how to stop it, but they ended up using it in a most unique way.

While it happens other moments in the film, at the 1:03:15 mark specifically, you’ll hear “You have a call waiting” and Ivan smacks the dashboard out of frustration and annoyance when it happens. The “You have a call waiting” was added to cover up the small buzz so while Hardy reacting authentically to the buzz it works just as well, perceived to be frustration due to yet another call coming in.

Locke audio commentary
Photo: A24

I believe it’s only used once, but Knight says he made use of windshield wiper fluid at a specific moment to be representative of tears.

Locke audio commentary
Photo: A24

Knight talks about the decision to make Ivan a construction site engineer and expert on concrete and why he chose concrete. He talks of talking to someone who actually had Ivan Locke’s job in real life and how the arrival of concrete was the most dramatic event on any job site. Of course, it’s also very metaphorical in relation to Ivan Locke’s personality.

As for the event the film is dealing with specifically, Knight talks about how it’s not something that would make it into the papers, but for the people involved it’s the end of the world. He also said something very interesting pertaining to how we are all actors in a lot of ways, acting differently when the phone rings and when it does “we become the person that deals with the person” that’s calling.

When it comes to Ivan Locke’s accent, it’s Welsh, and Hardy based it on a guy he knew, someone he considered a “solid, practical man whom he believed to be Welsh”. As it turns out, the man wasn’t Welsh at all.

Locke audio commentary
Photo: A24

In the end, one particular line from Ivan Locke struck me in conjunction with the lasting question in the end. At one point Ivan says, “I will do what needs to be done even if they love me or hate me” and in the end Knight leaves open the question… Was it worth it?

I highly recommend you check the film out and come up with your own answer to that last question. You can click here to buy it for yourself.