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

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

The Big Sick Movie Review

The Big Sick Movie Review

It may be rather long for a romantic comedy, but this film has such a...

The Emoji Movie Movie Review

The Emoji Movie Movie Review

There's no reason why this animated comedy adventure needed to be this pointless. Solidly entertaining...

Advertisement
England Is Mine Movie Review

England Is Mine Movie Review

While this is billed as a film about The Smiths' singer-songwriter Morrissey, it's actually an...

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Movie Review

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Movie Review

It's been 20 years since French filmmaker Luc Besson shook up the sci-fi genre with...

Dunkirk Movie Review

Dunkirk Movie Review

Britain's epic 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk has been dramatised on film before, but no one...

Killing Ground Movie Review

Killing Ground Movie Review

From Australia, this dark and edgy thriller is skilfully made by writer-director Damien Power to...

City of Ghosts Movie Review

City of Ghosts Movie Review

This award-winning documentary plays like a thriller as it traces the work of a group...

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

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.