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

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Advertisement
Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

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.