The Machinist

"Very Good"

The Machinist Review


Christian Bale lost 60 pounds for his role as an insomniac factory worker in The Machinist. In a profession where the transformation du jour has traditionally been weight gain, this an impressive physical stunt -- equaled only when Reese Witherspoon gets bonier after each pregnancy.

As unnecessary as it is for Bale to further sharpen our collective focus on gaunt bodies, his physical transformation is part of an arresting, convincing piece of acting. Brooding comes easily to Bale (he's a natural choice for the Batman role), and a prized quality for the kind of Hollywood hunk that he has verged on becoming for the past decade or so. But his physical performance in The Machinist goes far beyond standard film-world pouting. It's brooding with every ounce of sexiness or glamour sucked out -- only skin, bones, and haunted eyes remain.

The real reason behind Trevor Reznik's crippling insomnia -- he hasn't slept in a year, he says -- is not immediately explained. Director Brad Anderson instead focuses on creating the world Reznik must inhabit. The setting is more or less contemporary, though unnamed, but the cinematography by Xavi Giménez and Charlie Jiminez drains out most color; at times the grayness is astonishingly similar to black-and-white photography, until a splash of color like a bright red convertible provides an unsettling reminder. It's never made exactly clear just how interior this perpetually overcast world is.

Although the film is more about mood and character, Reznik is also trying to decipher a series of cryptic post-its left around his dark apartment (his electricity is shut off at some point, but you can hardly tell when that is). Anderson indulges in a bit of fashionable reality-speculation, but we are kept in such close quarters with Reznik, as he haunts an airport diner, visits a prostitute (Jennifer Jason Leigh), and toils in the factory, that the disorientation feels mostly natural. What Anderson has assembled, in other words, in a genuine psychological horror show -- not another movie where a serial killer speaks in psychobabble. Bale, in fact, could probably coast through that kind of slick-creepy role (he was great in American Psycho, which was less horror than satire), but in The Machinist he lives and breathes this sad man. As (barely) embodied by Bale, Reznik wins sympathy for his walking-dead attempts to live his life. Reznik seems to be grasping at a normal existence just out of reach.

If The Machinist seems slightly minor and insular in the end -- too enamored of its own puzzles -- it's also tightly constructed enough that (unlike a lot of thrillers and mysteries, psychological or otherwise) it actually makes more sense as it goes along, even though it may seem to make less. Anderson and Bale build something that only sounds like a chore: a character study as its own prison.

The DVD includes commentary track and deleted scenes.

Ghost in the machinist.



The Machinist

Facts and Figures

Run time: 101 mins

In Theaters: Friday 17th December 2004

Box Office USA: $0.9M

Box Office Worldwide: $8.2M

Budget: $5M

Distributed by: Paramount Classics

Production compaines: Filmax Entertainment, Castelao Producciones

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
Fresh: 108 Rotten: 33

IMDB: 7.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Trevor Reznik, as Stevie, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón as Marie, as Ivan, as Miller, Lawrence Gilliard Jr. as Jackson, Craig Stevenson as Tucker, as Jones, as Mrs. Shike, Matthew Romero Moore as Nicholas, James DePaul as Reynolds

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

Advertisement
My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.