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The Machinist (2004)
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Review Date: October 21, 2004
Director: Brad Anderson
Writer: Scott Kosar
Producers: Julio Fernandez
Actors:
Christian Bale as Trevor
Jennifer Jason Leigh as Stevie
Michael Ironside as Miller
Plot:
A man who hasn't slept a wink in over a year and has degenerated into a skeleton physique, can't seem to figure out what's wrong with himself and attempts to deal with his confusion, whilst continuing to work his job as a machinist and screwing a hooker with a heart of gold. Over time, the man suspects that someone or something is behind it all, but what's really happening? Christian Bale-as skinny as he'll ever be-ensues.
Critique:
Nice! It'd been a while since I'd walked into a movie, knowing very little about it, but preparing for both the best and the worst, but I'm glad I walked into THE MACHINIST with its gripping style, its amazing physical transformation and emotional dedication from star Christian Bale and its continuing mystery from step one to step last, making it one of the better movies that I've seen so far this year. This film is very minimal in terms of scope, features Bale in almost every single shot and very few other characters, but it's got a great tone, an amazing score that complements the film's very dark and ambiguous vibe (Bernard Herrmann, anyone?), and plenty of intrigue via clues, moments of clarity, moments of surreal cloudiness and plenty of questions, all the way to the very end. In that sense, this film reminded me a lot of FIGHT CLUB, MEMENTO and obviously INSOMNIA (with its similar sense of dream-like state and ambiguity), although this film's structure is a lot more straightforward, at least in terms of its timeline. I also liked how it felt a little Hitchcock-ish, almost certainly done on purpose, with plenty of driving about, inter-fades between scenes, moments of dual question marks, appearing/disappearing characters and an almost gleeful sense of playing around with the audience's mind.

I loved plenty about this movie, which takes its time to get going, but does so in a purposeful, dark and quite dreary set-up, with dozens of shots of Bale's extremely frail and rail-thin skeleton structure, giving us an immediate impression of how extreme this character has taken to his grave situation. You can't talk about this film without discussing Bale's brilliant performance though, since it not only takes the center stage in the story, but really has to connect to the audience. I've been a big fan of Bale since his virtuoso showing in AMERICAN PSYCHO, but his work here is commendable in terms of both his physical being carved out as the perfect specimen of his character, but also his deeper inner-being, with a very distinct gray zone allowing him to question, moralize and interpret the inexplicable happenings around him. Character study lovers...line up! What I also appreciated about this film was its sense of build-up, grungy industrial atmosphere (I doubt that the resemblance between the lead's name of Trevor Reznik and NIN's lead singer Trent Reznor is a coincidence), wonderfully dark and David Lynch-esque mood and ultimate sense of completion, understanding and depth. I'd recommend THE MACHINIST to anyone who enjoys a well-structured mystery set in the dark underground of one's subconscious with a slab of Jennifer Jason Leigh tittie dropped in for effect, the great Michael Ironside tossed in for further street cred and plenty of head games to keep one guessing until the very end. FYI, actor Christian Bale apparently lost 60 pounds for this role, which was approximately 1/3 of his body weight.
(c) 2017 Berge Garabedian
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10:17AM on 12/30/2005
Caught this movie on DVD and it's a very well done psychological flick. I wouldn't necessarily call it a thriller because I wasn't exactly on the edge of my seat throughout and the ending wasn't all that suprising either. Not that I saw it coming or anything, but my jaw wasn't on the floor while I'm thinking "Holy Shite," that's messed up. Instead, I found myself "Ahhhhh, so that's it."

But this movie is dark and does keep you interested throughout as you realize that all is not what it
Caught this movie on DVD and it's a very well done psychological flick. I wouldn't necessarily call it a thriller because I wasn't exactly on the edge of my seat throughout and the ending wasn't all that suprising either. Not that I saw it coming or anything, but my jaw wasn't on the floor while I'm thinking "Holy Shite," that's messed up. Instead, I found myself "Ahhhhh, so that's it."

But this movie is dark and does keep you interested throughout as you realize that all is not what it seems. The reality of this movie is based on the main character who, obviously, has got some problems. And Christian Bale succeeds on all fronts - he not only looks like he's got some serious issues, but his performance reflects on that point also. The rest of the cast wasn't anything special, though it's always cool to see Michael Ironside in a movie. The supporting cast seemed like it was written to support the mystery of the story - and to play their roles based on what reality they lived in. They do a good job, but nothing special.

There are a couple of things that just didn't make much sense to me; like the significance of the time "1:30;" maybe I missed something somewhere, but I never got that. Also, the who tried to kill Reznick (Bale)? If the movie tried to name the culprit, it didn't do a very good job.
And the identity of the mysterious person throughout the movie has been done a few too many times before and didn't add anything original to the movie.

But I liked this movie; I liked it's dark tone and psychological undertones. It had a Edgar Allen Poe feel to it and Christian Bale obviously did a lot to embody the lead character of Trevor Reznick - physically, emotionally, and psychologically. There a few holes and unoriginal bits that didn't add anything constructive or new to the movie. But overall, it's a good psychologically driven flick.
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