Screen Savor: Road Trips

Locke_BD_3D_OcardConstruction director Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is in the process of resolving as many problems as he’s creating in the one-man show Locke (IM Global). On the eve of the biggest concrete pour ever in Europe, Locke is in his BMW SUV, driving away, almost two hours to London, to be with Bethan (voiced by Olivia Colman), a woman who became pregnant with his baby after a one-night fling.

The fact that it was the only time that he ever strayed in his 15-year marriage to Katrina (voiced by Ruth Wilson) makes no difference to his wife. Through a series of car-phone calls, we get to know these two women almost as well as Ivan knows them. For example, when Bethan asks Ivan if he hates her for going through with pregnancy, he tells her he doesn’t really know her well enough to have those kinds of feelings. Meanwhile, it’s perfectly clear how much Ivan loves Katrina (as well as his sons Sean and Eddie) through their phone conversations and the tears he sheds.

Ivan also converses with others. There’s his boss, Gareth (Ben Daniels), who, in spite of Ivan’s track record of excellence, may not be able to save his job. There is the medical staff at the hospital, whom Ivan constantly makes the distinction between being the baby’s father and Bethan’s partner, keeping him abreast of the delivery situation. He also carries on an imaginary conversation with his father, a man he despises and one he doesn’t want to be anything like. But it is Ivan’s calls with Donal (Andrew Scott), his right hand man at the construction site, which provide necessary tension-breaking humor and offer more insight into Ivan.

Locke is especially notable for giving viewers another side of Hardy to admire. Bearded, beaten down by life and a head cold (he’s constantly blowing his nose and chugging meds), Hardy’s Locke is the only face we see on-screen for 85 minutes. It’s to Hardy’s credit that we never look away. DVD/Digital special features include a featurette, audio commentary by writer/director Steven Knight and more.

TripToBountiful_3Dskew_Ocard_1.jpgHorton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful (Lifetime/Lionsgate) has a lengthy history, especially as a showcase for actresses. Originally presented more than 60 years ago as an NBC teleplay, Foote’s piece was made into an Oscar-winning 1985 film. It also had a couple of Broadway productions, most recently in 2013 with Cicely Tyson and Vanessa Williams.

Tyson and Williams reprise their roles, as Carrie and her daughter-in-law Jessie Mae, respectively, in the latest film adaptation. Independent and elderly Carrie, forced to live with bossy and nervous Jessie Mae and Carrie’s over-worked and henpecked son Ludie (Blair Underwood), wants nothing more than to make a (final?) trip to Bountiful, her hometown. Determined to get there by any means necessary (including hiding her pension check), Carrie packs a suitcase, sneaks out of the house in Houston and heads to the bus station in order to make her trip a reality.

At the bus station, after a close call running into Ludie and Jessie Mae, Carrie meets Thelma (Keke Palmer), who becomes her seat-mate for the first leg of the excursion. Along the way, Carrie regales Thelma with stories of the Bountiful she remembers and offers advice. However, not too far along the way, Carrie gets some bad news, and finds herself stranded at a bus station where she sings hymns, has some laughs and sheds some tears, before completing her journey. Originally a Lifetime cable presentation, the 1950s-set The Trip to Bountiful, includes the commercial pauses. Tyson’s performance is of the high standard we have come to expect from her and Williams adds a level of camp to the production.

By Gregg Shapiro

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