The ancients thought that the seat of female hysteria was the womb. My theory (just as credible) is that male charisma resides in the neck.
The most magnetic films stars have always had impressive upper spines. Marlon Brando’s neck was so thick it was simply a continuation of his temples with only a jutting chin to betray the difference. While James Dean’s sudden bare nook between hair and leather collar is the definition of sexy vulnerability. Tom Hardy, one of the most exciting actors of the moment, is just as well endowed. His neck, playing the serial killer in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bronson and a charming forger in Christopher Nolan’s Inception, was in constant danger of overshadowing his head (not to mention the other actors on screen). When casting him again in Batman, Nolan made damn sure Bane’s mask was sufficiently revealing to flaunt his star’s best asset.
In his latest film, Hardy appears only from his shoulders up. He plays Locke, a construction site manager, who has to drive from Birmingham to London in what is obviously a deviation from his normal routine. The change in plan forces him to stand up his family who are waiting for him at home to watch the football and to guide an inept colleague through preparations for the ‘biggest concrete pour in Europe’ while trying to calm down the woman, who is not his wife, frantically awaiting his arrival. For 80 minutes, we watch his life unravel on the phone.
As scriptwriter for Stephen Frear’s Dirty Pretty Things and one of the brains behind Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?, the director Stephen Knight knows how to do clever and compelling.