LOCKE written and directed by Steven Knight,.

LOCKE written and directed by Steven Knight, with Tom Hardy and the voices of Olivia Colman, Ruth Wilson and Andrew Scott. An Elevation Pictures release. 85 minutes. Opens Friday (May 9). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNNN

Unfolding more or less in real time, Locke is an intense character study of a construction foreman who puts his personal and professional lives at risk to make an impromptu drive from Birmingham to London.

Using nothing but Tom Hardy stuck behind the wheel of a car talking to a speakerphone, writer/director Steven Knight has made a brooding consideration of the price of having a moral code. It’s amazing what a high-wire act that turns out to be.

Co-stars like Olivia Colman (Broadchurch) and Ruth Wilson (Luther) make considerable impressions given that they’re heard only as disembodied voices. And Knight’s carefully calibrated script provides rock-solid motivations for Hardy’s character.

You could quibble that the method by which that exposition is delivered is a bit gimmicky, but it doesn’t diminish what Knight and Hardy have achieved.

This is a remarkable cinematic experiment.

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