Locked Down evaluate: Doug Liman’s romantic heist is the most productive COVID film thus far

Important moments in historical past have at all times been immortalized via movie, and we will be expecting that to be true for the COVID-19 pandemic as smartly. After The us’s first stay-at-home order in March, American studios needed to adapt temporarily to stay pumping out content material, and one tactic was once incorporating COVID into the tales they had been telling. COVID-era leisure unexpectedly developed from Zoom cast-reunion specials and season finales to in-person productions that both mirror the present occasions, with haphazard masks utilization and social-justice storylines, or display lifestyles as customary. Those tales have both been set within the early days of the pandemic, or increased it to a catastrophic tournament nonetheless happening years from now. Although some early-days presentations were comforting, they’ve attempted to mirror at the scenario whilst it was once nonetheless ongoing: Hulu’s Love within the Time of Corona and Netflix’s Social Distance got here out in summer time and fall respectively, when vaccines had been nonetheless in trial stages, and governments had been nonetheless unclear on precisely how critically to regard the virus.

The brand new HBO Max movie Locked Down appears on the COVID-19 pandemic with extra distance. The movie takes position within the early days of the pandemic, all over what seems to be the U.Okay.’s preliminary stay-at-home order. Everybody except for very important staff are confined to their properties, together with central couple Linda (Anne Hathaway) and Paxton (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Linda has simply damaged up with Paxton, however they’re self-isolating in combination out of necessity, whilst Paxton is on furlough from his courier task and Linda is operating remotely. The majority of the movie presentations them suffering with all the upheaval in their day by day routines and a large number of time spent in combination in a confined house. Reasonably than being miserable or overly nihilistic, Locked Down fills the placement with a dry humor and slight absurdity which, blended with the space from the start of the pandemic, makes the movie the most productive COVID-related piece of media to come back out thus far.

Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor look through the jewelry counter in a store in Locked Down

Photograph: HBO

The massive distinction between Locked Down and former COVID presentations and flicks is that it doesn’t must convenience its target audience. Maximum COVID media thus far has served both as an break out from day by day pandemic lifestyles, or a case learn about of how one can get via it. Locked Down was once filmed in September and October beneath strict COVID protocols, and is being launched into a global with a viable vaccine, with tangible proof that the pandemic will probably be over at some point. As an alternative of the earnestness and “we will get via this” pathos of earlier COVID media, Locked Down displays the darkish aspect of self-isolating: the ingesting, uncertainty, and complaining. The widely acquainted references to needless Zoom conferences and bread-baking are funnier now than they might were in March.

In the beginning of the movie, Linda and Paxton are patently depressing and suffering to simply get via on a daily basis. Paxton has been spending his furlough venting to kin on FaceTime and going out into the road to accomplish poetry for his neighbors, who both experience it, or curse at him. Linda remains to be hired as CEO of a department of a sketchy conglomerate, however she’s crumbling beneath the moral calls for of the task, together with having to fireplace coworkers. Thru a chain of coincidences over per week’s time, Linda and Paxton finally end up with get admission to to Harrods division shop, and a plan to thieve a £three million diamond and give up their depressing jobs.

It’s an absurd setup, however the plot shenanigans have compatibility with the movie’s vibe of private anguish controlled all over chaos, heightened by means of increased language and a bit of of farce that results in Paxton assuming a false identification as “Edgar Allan Poe.” Written by means of Peaky Blinders author Steven Knight and directed by means of Doug Liman, Locked Down has the heightened language of a play, suffused with dry British humor and a bit of of nihilism. With Liman’s route, the state of the leads’ courting drives the movie up to the heist components, very similar to his earlier movies Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Fringe of Day after today. Hathaway and Ejiofor give very good performances, particularly Hathaway, who expertly handles Linda’s slow unraveling. The remainder of the solid, most commonly showing by means of video-conference, comprises Mark Gatiss, Stephen Service provider, Dulé Hill, Mindy Kaling, and Ben Kingsley, regardless that there are a couple of extra sturdy solid surprises.

Although the supporting solid supplies many of the movie’s comedy, the most productive scenes come from the conversations between Linda and Paxton. Spurred by means of the additional time to assume all over lockdown, each characters take a excellent take a look at their lives and understand that they hate the place they’ve ended up. Linda doesn’t catastrophize up to Paxton in the beginning — Knight’s script means that she’s needed to be the grownup within the room since beginning their breakup — however they each need to alternate their stations in lifestyles, drawing near a want for freedom from their instances. Knight and Liman don’t be offering a lot details about how they were given thus far of their lives, past bare-bones affirmation of the way they met, and the way lengthy they’ve been in combination. However the clean areas upload a little bit common taste to the tale, whilst those particular characters move from a slightly acquainted state of affairs (let’s simply steer clear of each and every different in the home) to an outlandish one. (Let’s rob Harrods!)

Anne Hathaway holds up a small object in Harrods in Locked Down

Photograph: HBO

The Harrods heist portion of the romance/heist film/darkish comedy is condensed into the closing 40 mins of the movie, and it’s price spending the primary 80 mins questioning whether or not it’s going to ever in reality occur. The tonal shift suits the motion from a confined area to a big division shop, however the pressure remains on the identical stage, even because the leads transition from a duo at odds to a staff. The heist section additionally options probably the most romantic moments between the couple options many of the film’s large humor comprises probably the most levity within the film, with each the characters and the route reveling within the transfer from confinement to a loose house. Even the target audience will get some kid-in-a-candy-store pleasure via osmosis.

The cinematography remains tight on Hathaway and Ejiofor during the movie, which Liman shoots most commonly with close-u.s.and monitoring photographs, mirroring the leads’ confinement to their area. Retaining the angles shut we could Liman stay the stress top, regardless that he in any case permits some extensive photographs as soon as the movie strikes to Harrods. Those possible choices deliver a way of claustrophobia to each and every scene, making the characters’ anguish extra of a environment than the real area they reside in. The lighting fixtures additionally builds at the mental sense of confinement, with many of the scenes filmed with low or indoor gentle. Even the soundtrack, or lack thereof, provides the movie a way of suspended time: the rating’s evolution from silent-movie-style piano at first to a cooler electric-guitar rating is the one trace of passing time but even so the alternate between night time and day. The only time a track with lyrics comes on, it looks like an interruption to the movie’s stasis, very similar to a window breaking.

Locked Down doesn’t have compatibility into a very simple style categorization. It’s a practical sufficient depiction of the way folks fought, laughed, and cried amid the confusion and loss of regimen in early days of the pandemic. The movie’s worth on its day of liberate comes from reputation of all of the shared instances of the pandemic that haven’t been spoken aloud but. After a 12 months of looking to live sure, giggling alongside to sarcasm and self-woe is a liberate. Locked Down additionally meets the purpose of immortalization; of all of the pandemic media launched during the last 10 months, folks will most likely go back to this movie as probably the most sensible depiction of the early days of COVID.

Past that, it’s additionally a depressing comedy, a post-breakup exploration, and a fairly low-stakes heist movie. All of that takes position in an overly real-world scenario, however it infuses the placement with a small quantity of levity and absurdity. It’s an bold tale that acknowledges that it takes position in a society the place all of the standard regulations were became on its head, and customary’s long gone out of the window. It isn’t comforting, however it’s a style for the inevitable long term COVID films to come back.

Locked Down is now streaming on HBO Max.

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