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The Machinist

The Machinist

Genders: Drama, Thriller

Director: Brad Anderson

Writer: Scott Kosar

Actors: Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, John Sharian

Year: 2004
Run time: 1h 41min
IMDB score: 7.7
Updated: 2 years ago

Movie infomation

Movie name: The Machinist

Genders: Drama, Thriller

Imdb Score: 7.7

Runtime: 1h 41min

Released: 11 Nov 2004

Director: Brad Anderson

Writer: Scott Kosar

Actors: Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, John Sharian

Box Office: $0.9M

Company: Paramount Classics

OfficialWebsite

Imdb Link

The Machinist Available Subtitles

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Trailer


Review

'Thinner' meets 'Memento' by way of 'Angel Heart' a la Hitchcock

5/10 THE MACHINST (2004) ***1/2 Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, John Sharian, Michael Ironside, Reg E. Cathey.

'Thinner' meets 'Memento' by way of 'Angel Heart' a la Hitchcock

There are a few select actors who have gained or shed weight to make a true transformation on screen but the one that will probably remain imprinted for years to come is the truly shocking display by Christian Bale who lost a whopping 63 lbs. to a skeletal shell of 120 for his portrayal of dank creepy perfection.

Bale stars as the afflicted Trevor Reznik, a shell of a man who works in a machine factory and apparently is nursing some horrible demon that has led to his astonishing appearance, ghostly pallor and paranoia soaked delusions that call to question his amazing confession: How can a man not sleep for an entire year and waste away to a shadow of his being and keep his sanity?

The answer isn't so transparent as Reznik becomes submerged in some sort of dreamscape nightmare of conspiracy theories and the innate distrust of his own mind playing tricks on him one night when he encounters the perpetually grinning Ivan (Sharian sporting the sharkiest Cheshire Cat smile in recent film memory) an apparently new shift employee who distracts him to the point of a horrific accident that causes his employer and co-worker to mistrust him and suspect his deteriorating looks as something a tad more sinister.

Reznik's only solace is in literally a mother-whore relationship he shares with a well-meaning lovely waitress (Sanchez-Gizon) at the airport diner he frequents as much as the hooker he lies with to express his thoughts and odd happenings (Leigh in her umpteenth whore role that must have filled her quota by now).

After the accident Reznik is plagued with a series of Post-Its sporting a game of hangman that leads to a few clues to his rationale and ultimately to his fate of 'Who Am I?'

Directed by Anderson who helmed the criminally underrated spooky horror flick 'Session 9' a few years back returns to a dark story of a man clearly unraveling and destroying himself in the process that echoes Stephen King's 'Thinner' by way of the identity crises of 'Memento' and the psychological thriller 'Angel Heart' yet invokes a sharply executed script by Scott Kosar (who penned the worthy remake of 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' last year) that recalls David Fincher meets David Lynch paroxysms of fate and the build up to a discovery that is all too recognizable to the thriller genre in recent years of identity masked as phobic reality with its latter day Hitchcock everyman skewed nicely. Kudos to cinematographers Xavi Gimenez and Charlie Jiminez for its bleak, green/grey drudgery and the Herrmannesque score by Roque Banos mixes perfectly to the dread at hand displays.

Bale went above and beyond the call of duty in his somewhat controversial display of Holocaust invoking demeanor yet it works shockingly well as it delves into the troubled soul of a man who is wasting away not only as a metaphor but as a penance for some hell to pay.

4 years ago

Dostoyevsky and The Machinist

8/10 I really enjoyed this film. It reminded me of 21 Grams, Jacob's Ladder and Memento. Perhaps the finale left a few questions unanswered or felt a little anti-climactic but an amazing performance by Christian Bale. Haunted, brave, vulnerable, murderous but also very moving. A film which stays with you.

Now, here's an eggheaded thing, but did anyone notice the constant stream of Dostoyevsky references in the movie? Not only did Resnick (remind anyone of Raskolnikov?) put down a copy of Dostoyevsky's The Idiot at one point but the whole movie owed a lot to Notes From The Underground, Crime And Punishment and The Double. Did anyone spot the sign in the Ghost Train sequence which read Crime And Punishment? Or that Sharian's character is called Ivan (cf The Brothers Karamazov - especially the chapter Ivan's Dream)? Jennifer Jason Leigh's character is very familiar from Dostoyevsky, as was the saintly Maria.

Its a cracking film and none of these references are indispensable to enjoying it but I thought I would point it out.

4 years ago

Interesting

5/10 I saw this film at the Stockholm International Film Festival in November 2004. In the audience was director Brad Anderson, and i think he very much appreciated how the film was received by the rest of the audience. And this film was well worth the applause.

This film is about a man (Christian Bale) working in a heavy industry. He suffers from insomnia and hasn't slept for a year. This condition is causing him to lose weight, and his perception of reality to become twisted. Soon he doesn't know what's real or not.

I won't elaborate any more on the plot since it could really spoil the film for you. There are some twists and turns along the way that might not be all that obvious and you should be able to enjoy them without being told too much. What i can say though is that the story is in no way revolutionary. A couple of films have been made in the same vein as this one, the most famous perhaps being Memento and Fight Club. And "The Machinist" shares elements from both these films but still, i think, manages to create an identity of it's own.

But aside from the story, Christian Bale really steals the show. Having seen him in his previous films it's hard to be prepared for what he looks like here. For this film he has turned himself into a walking skeleton, a run-down shadow of a man. And his performance is, throughout the movie, mesmerizing. I have ever since American Psycho been fully convinced of Bale's talents as an actor, and this further proves his talent and commitment. The rest of the cast also do a good job, strengthening the overall strange mood of the film.

Although i thoroughly enjoyed this film i understand it's not for everyone. This is not the least proved by the fact that Brad Anderson (as he stated in the interview after the screening) could not get funding for it in America. Instead he had to go to Spain to make the film the way he wanted to. And i'm not surprised, this is not your standard Hollywood fare. But for those of us who enjoy films that go beyond the will to suit everyone (and make loads of money) this is a rewarding experience. I rate it 7/10.

4 years ago

A grower

8/10 It's a common rule that people subconsciously decide within the first ten minutes whether they like a movie or not. It didn't even take me that long to know that I would be intrigued by "The Machinist".

The set up is perfect. It's adorable how the movie constantly establishes new plot points without ever getting tedious. As the story goes on it gets hard to believe that the ending will be able to explain everything and you start pondering that there can only be one possible conclusion for all the weird events. It may be disappointing at first to learn that your predictions are probably dead-on and you might go: "Not that old twist again." The beautiful thing, however, is that there's an explanation to the twist that really adds a lot to the concept. Much later, when you've already left the theater and you rethink the whole thing, you'll find that the script is much cleverer than you had thought at first. To me the biggest achievement of the movie in retrospective is, that it's never creepy just for the sake of freaking the audience out (and hell, the carnival-sequence is so friggin creepy and well made, it's delightful). Every scene has its purpose and that is not often the case in horror and mystery movies.

Although the whole cast did a fine job, Christian Bale's terrific performance must be mentioned. Usually I'm annoyed by stories about actors losing or gaining weight in preparation for a role, because mostly it's uncalled for anyway and not even worth a mention. What Bale did to prepare for "The Machinist", however, is nothing short of heroic. He lost 60 pounds and looks so unhealthy throughout the whole movie that it's hard to believe he turned into himself again after the director yelled "cut!".

I can recommend "The Machinist" to anybody who's looking for a movie that keeps you intrigued longer than just during its running time. If after 10 minutes you like the movie, after days you'll find yourself still obsessed with it. I love it, when a movie does that to me!

4 years ago

A strong mood piece, but not for everyone

8/10 There are many good things about The Machinist that are well deserving of praise. The very atmospheric nature of the film is supported very strongly by excellent performances all around. Christian Bale takes things to the extreme in his embodiment of his character. It is hard to take seeing him in his near-starvation body mass, which elevates the tension of this piece even further. The storyline leaves a little to be desired. While it creates its mood excellently, it does tend to plod along a little too much.

One thing that does stand out is how reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock this film plays. Almost everything about the film screams Hitchcock, from the editing of certain scenes (the driving sequences are very much in the style of Psycho) to the Bernard Herrmann-esquire score (lots of bass clarinet), the lack of fully-exploring/revealing some of the creepier points of the film (what is dripping from the fridge?), and the washed out, grainy photography. If you want to see what a film would look like if Hitchcock were alive to film it today, this is the closest thing you could probably come across. And if that was part of Brad Anderson's intention in directing this, I have to commend him on the execution because it is uncanny.

Overall, I would recommend this film, but not to casual movie-goers. This is very much a movie-phile experience for those who appreciate character development and cinematography as much as plot points and a storyline that can be defined and followed from one action to the next. In that way it is closer to films like Magnolia or the Others, where the apex is the characters. If you are looking for a typical popcorn Hollywood thriller, this is not what you are looking for.

4 years ago