Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 54 minutes, Director – Doug Liman
A married couple (Anne Hathaway, Chiwetel Ejiofor) whose relationship is cracking during lockdown plan a diamond heist.
Bad internet, relationship frustrations, bread-making and the extent of the effects of boredom are all elements of lockdown that have been poked fun of countless times over the past year. They’ve been the subject of a handful of stand-up sets, podcast conversations, TV show segments and more, and now it’s time for the film treatment. Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor both go through such events in lockdown comedy – the aptly named – Locked Down. It would be easy for such jabs and jokes to already feel old and monotonous, yet there’s something about director Doug Liman’s latest that feels enough of the moment to make it a worthwhile, mildly humorous, watch.
Perhaps it’s down to the central performances of the central pairing as a married couple struggling with their relationship during lockdown. Fashion CEO Linda (Hathaway) and delivery driver Paxton (Ejiofor) find themselves with a number of different stresses during the pandemic. Linda worries about having to send employees on furlough, or laying them off, and breaking the news via Zoom; meanwhile her husband suffers from lockdown boredom, barely having anywhere to drive to and spending most of his time inside. It’s not long until the urge to bake arrives, soon after he emerges into his street to read poetry late at night – to varying responses. Yet, it’s not long until the pair are met with a task that they can finally work on together, stealing a £3 million diamond from Harrods.
Throughout the planning process, which comes late in the film after we’re acquainted with the lives that may very well match our own, and a fair deal before the film is scattered with a number of famous faces, some as small supporting cast-members, others as brief cameos. From the likes of Ben Stiller and Mindy Kaling to more homegrown talent such as Stephen Merchant and Mark Gatiss. Luckily, the film avoids a feeling as if it’s simply trying to cram in a showcase of celebrity appearances for the sake of laughs, there’s a lack of a showy feel and they manage to simply exist as characters on the occasional video call that add to the frustrations of the central two figures, simply adding to their worries, stresses and growing use of cigarettes.
Once we finally get to the heist the laughs may die down as the plot finally begins to take form, in the second half of Steven Knight’s screenplay. At 114 this is a slightly too long film, once again proving that comedies should try, as much as possible, to stick to the 90 minute rule – while amusing, there are a number of moments that focus on small sections of the pairs lives that don’t overly impact the film. They push the run-time on and cause it to be truly felt as the main case of the ‘action’ takes place, leading the film from going to rather good to fairly average. While the performances are still good, and capture the needed lightness for the situation at hand – creating something enjoyable and of the time – the events in the outside world are surprisingly less entertaining than what we seem to have been living through for the last year.
Locked Down is certainly a film made up heavily with observational comedic beats. Held up by Hathaway and Ejiofor’s performances there’s a light helping of amusement to be found here, even when the film does eventually divert into its heist premise.