Locomotive follows Dicey, a former straight-edge musician who took some minor success from a band he started years ago, as he tries to reconnect after his solo career as a DJ takes a dive. Unfortunately, the band moved on without him, so he tries to fall back on a former love interest, a groupie for the band, who he also left behind.
Locomotive wants you to judge. It is an exploration of people engaged in damaging relationships. Its characters are polarizing, as hard to sympathize with as they are to hate. By demanding the audience judge the characters from a distance, the final opinions say as much about the viewer as they do the characters.
Locomotive recalls the American Independent movies of the 1990s, as well as the European Art cinema that influenced them, most notably the French New Wave films of the late 1950s and 60s, in which viewers are given ample room to explore the complex characters and situations and ultimately draw their own conclusions. It enjoys dividing the audience. Almost every screening ends with heated discussion as viewers weight the effects of the main character, Dicey, in his interactions with the other characters. Dicey is a runaway train of sorts, crashing into the characters’ lives. Whether he affects them for better or worse is up to the viewer, and is in fact the central question of the film.
The gritty look of the film is inspired by the do-it-yourself punk rock scene of 1980s, the same music movement from which its main character gets his history. The movie uses documentary-style photography and natural lighting to give it an analogue, underground feel. Locomotive was first released on an underground tour similar to those original bands' music tours, showing not only at film festivals, but also in basements, bars, churches, colleges, outside museums... anywhere its audience might be.
Fans of literate films will find much to engage with in Locomotive, which invites the audience to experience its well-drawn, realistic characters, be witness to their unconventional choices, and debate their layers of consequence long after the movie is over.