Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. United Kingdom/USA, 2013. IM Global, Shoebox Films. Screenplay by Steven Knight. Cinematography by Haris Zambarloukos. Produced by Guy Heeley, Paul Webster. Music by Dickon Hinchliffe. Costume Design by Nigel Egerton. Film Editing by Justine Wright. National Board of Review Awards 2014. National Society of Film Critics Awards 2014.
An impressive experiment that pays off, this entire film takes place in the driver’s seat of a car, with the unsurprisingly charismatic Tom Hardy driving to London and leaving destruction in his wake. En route to the hospital where his child is about to be born, we learn through phone conversations that his life has hit an apex of complications. The woman about to give birth is not his wife, she is a one-night stand that resulted in the present circumstances, which he finally gets around to telling his wife about in order to explain why he will not be coming home that night. Meanwhile, a crucial construction project requires his presence and, as he is not able to make it in person, he has to call his problematic colleagues and hopefully work it out so that he has a career if not a home to return to when he has finished doing the right thing. Frantic calls from the expectant mother, tears from the wife, bewilderment from his children who want him to come home for a soccer game, and fights with his drunken co-workers all combine to push a man beyond the edge of sanity, all the while he has to keep his eyes on the road and make sure he uses his signals properly. Hardy’s lively eyes and richly intelligent delivery keep the experience from ever being dull, despite the fact that you get little more than shots of his face and of the dashboard, the inky night sky in the background punctuated by streetlights being the only vaguely visual comment on this cinematic one-man show. The professional conundrum is not nearly as good a hook dramatically as his personal one, but combined they make for a spectacular combustion, and the performances by actors appearing only as voices (which include names as notable as Olivia Colman and Ruth Wilson) match Hardy for commitment and intensity.