A case for Tom Hardy

One of the brightest celebrities shining all over my desktop screens (even if my current desktop wallpaper of Mad Max: Fury Road is an extreme wide shot concealing his pretty face) and one of the most prolific and versatile contemporary British film stars today is Tom Hardy.

What is extremely fascinating about the subtle choice of Tom Hardy’s roles throughout the years is that it could be anything from extraterrestrial humanoid clone in Star Trek: Nemesis (2002) through to the main protagonist of the television adaptation of Wuthering Heights (2009) or the eponymous character Mad Max in the franchise sequel Mad Max: Fury Road. Apart from Wuthering Heights, Hardy was cast in famous television productions, such as Taboo, Peaky Blinders and Oliver Twist where he demonstrates equally the ability to create an atmosphere of different places, nuances by authentic accents and presence. I decided to focus on one of Hardy’s performances, which only a few actors could really pull off and which compresses in itself most of the strengths that he has as an actor.                    

The film Locke is a British-American production from 2013, written and directed by Steven Knight. The film revolves around the life story of the main protagonist – Ivan Locke (played by Tom Hardy) – on one tense night, extracted from the misleadingly exemplary life of the concrete expert Ivan Locke. The running time of this film is 85 minutes, and Tom Hardy carries the whole production on his shoulders while driving monotonously in his car. The decision to shoot the film from the perspective of a man, whose world collapses in the period of one night is brave in terms of the risks that focusing on one person might hold. The pace of the action is firmly calculated, and a great balance is made between the moments, in which the character of Hardy needs to face his own self and the ones, in which he needs to face his present, future and past.

Despite the fact that this film is a one-man-show, the voices of famous actors can be recognized. Among them are Olivia Colman (recently accoladed with an Oscar for Best actress in a leading role, The Favourite), Tom Holland and Andrew Scott. In this film, Hardy projects a complexity of emotions into a bravura performance, which was somehow underrated perhaps because of the simplicity of the story. This film proves that lavishing visual effects aren’t necessary, especially when the story to be told is absolutely realistic and imaginable in a daily-base context. Conversely, to me it seems that the more simplistic a story is, the more difficult it gets for the team to come up with a unique and visually appealing final product.

In 2015 the British critic David Thompson points out in his book How To Watch a Movie that: ‘No film I’ve seen in recent years is more eloquent on where we are now, and on how alone we feel.’ This statement is indicative of the theme of the film exploring loneliness, its impact on people’s decisions and how people handle their own mistakes. Tom Hardy’s character Locke is a person who needs to support his views, even if this means total destruction of his marriage, family and career. Characters like this one are essential to display the fears of the society – the tendency of women giving birth over 40, the career success as placed on a pedestal, people’s habit to neglect their own emotions until they burst out savagely. Locke could serve as an example of the ability of Hardy to pick his roles, serving as the main pillar for the saturation of relevant, contemporary societal issues.

And after taking part in films like Locke, a curious and anticipated film with Hardy in the leading role will be Fonzo, which will be released this year and will present the image of Al Capone after his 11-year sentence in Federal prison as he wrestles dementia. With photos released by Hardy on social media, there is visual evidence of yet another astonishing transformation into the lives of his characters. Only time will show if this transformation could be compared with his previous performances in Bronson (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012). Tom Hardy proves to be one of the most dedicated and versatile actors, learning and playing alongside the best actors of our time.

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Iveta Trifonova

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October 2021
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