Movie Review: ‘Locked Down’ offers an itchy, familiar look at life in the middle of the pandemic


It’s for health workers and against The Man.

And when it opens up, the dialogue is so dense with its own cleverness that it’s exhausting – though its claustrophobic stars Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor eventually bring it to something less hectic.

However, it’s an itchy and familiar portrait of a certain type of pandemic experience: that of middle-class people who are healthy, physically but not necessarily mentally thriving, who can likely keep their roof and indulge in returning to a smoking habit – must but may be selling a luxury item.

“Locked Down,” written by Steven Wright and directed by Doug Liman, begins quarantine – if it looks like the spread of COVID-19 can be leaked in just two weeks. Linda (played by Hathaway) and Paxton (Ejiofor) have split up, but spend the ban together in their shared house in London. She’s mostly confiscated from a bedroom where she’s having some ugly online meetings, first professionally dressed up and down, then in pajama pants and zoom shirts as she loosens up.

He’s in a different bedroom – his clothes are hanging on a portable rack – but is also free-range more around the house, occasionally showing up in the middle of the street to recite poetry. (Reviews from the neighbors are, as one would expect from people trapped in their own boxes, a mixture of deep, soul-content approval and “shut up”.)

It is the mutual shedding moments here that are so, so great. All pretenses and courtesy are removed to reveal these wild people underneath.

The scenes:

Linda expresses a dramatic and denominational monologue about a recent hotel room tirade she had. She broke a mirror because she could see her face in it.

“If you don’t tell anyone, it didn’t happen,” she says.

During a Zoom meeting with an everywhiterichman, Ben Stiller, the screen interferes and he tells her, “Your face is frozen from that look of despair.”

Linda has a wild punk rock moment in the back yard, dancing to music streamed from her iPhone – that burst of pure familiar energy; Paxton has detached himself from his motorcycle on the street, pauses for a while to sit with goats, and returns home dazed and happy from this unusual moment.

During the conversation he breaks away from her and runs out onto the terrace: “Is that the marmot?” he asks.

Linda climbs up the rungs of the company but is disaffected with the company. Paxton is on leave from his job as a delivery driver, but his boss has a side appearance for him – something that makes money.

By a twisted twist on something, the pandemic timing, their jobs collide in the opportunity, perhaps, perhaps, of carrying out a good old-fashioned heist in a very satisfying way.

You are drawing on a desk-sized calendar, another nod to the film’s pandemic life, which is so right. What is a 2020 calendar for – if not scratch-off paper.

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