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The Machinist

A movie directed by Brad Anderson

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A Dark and Somber Maze of Altered Reality

  • Jun 8, 2005
THE MACHINIST is a mesmerizing film, a journey through the interstices of a mind deprived of sleep, of nourishment, and a mind that struggles to untangle the chaos of a past of guilt and terror. And the journey is terrifying.

When the film opens we meet Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale) or at least the emaciated, tortured remains of a man who hasn't slept for a year. We don't know why this worker in a machine factory is in such condition: the story unwinds slowly so that by the end we accompany Reznik in his shock to his moment of discovery. It is the getting there that is the tough beauty of this amazingly rich film as written by Scott Kosar and directed by Brad Anderson.

The setting is always dark as though the state of mind is a nightmare. Reznik's meager existence is challenged when he is involved in an industrial accident in which a fellow worker Miller (Michael Ironside) loses an arm. Shocked by the accident (for which Reznik feels responsible) the various few people in his life seem supportive: a hooker named Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a waitress in an airport all night diner Marie (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón), and an ambiguous bald man Ivan (John Sharian) who appears to Reznik in strange ways.

Reznik's mind slowly disintegrates into paranoid delusions, the only way he can hold his life together is by post-its reminding him first of his documented progressive weight loss, then of his needs, then of his secret mystery. To say more would be a great disservice to the extraordinary plot.

Christian Bale delivers one of the most committed performances on film. He not only physically inhabits Reznik with his skeletal appearance, he also mentally nurtures all the nuances of fear, pain, pleasure and madness that build as his character's reason for a year of insomnia is revealed at the very end. We stand in suspense with him and his fall is as powerful as any Dante ever devised. The entire cast is superb but special kudos go to Jennifer Jason Leigh who finally has a role that allows her to demonstrate the spectrum of skill she possesses as an actress. Not an easy film, this, but a very important one. Highly recommended - but not to see alone! Grady Harp, June 05

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More The Machinist reviews
Quick Tip by . October 22, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
There was much hype about this flick. Christian Bale purposely lost a third of his body mass to play this role. If you are a healthy weight, losing a third of your mass is dramatic and risky, so the ends need to justify the means. This movie would still be mediocre at best without regard to Mr. Bale's ill advised extreme diet.
review by . June 02, 2008
"The Machinist" is a movie that is so enthralled and impressed with itself that it refuses to let go of its convoluted story. Trevor, a man who has not slept in 1 year, is both physically and mentally suffering from the aforementioned sleep depravation. His work, personal life, body and mind suffer from his insomnia, if we can call it that. Strange things begin to happen, he sees people unseen by anyone else and the viewer, along with Trevor, is taken along in this psychological thriller with more …
review by . November 26, 2006
Pros: Christian Bale's performance; story-line; supporting actors      Cons: None     The Bottom Line: Bale’s performance alone makes The Machinist worth of a look, but don’t watch the movie alone; it is best shared—dare I say savored—with a friend.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot. I am loath to admit that before Batman Begins (2005) I had never heard of Christian Bale, though I had probably …
review by . February 04, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Bale all the way     Cons: none that large     The Bottom Line: "Welcome my son,   welcome to the machine.   Where have you been?   It's alright we know where you've been."   Pink Floyd     Definitely spooky, just for the visuals alone, The Machinist carries an eerie story a little over the edge.       Basic story …    Trevor Reznik works as a machinist in a …
review by . August 28, 2005
What would happen if you hadn't slept for a year?    That's the basic premise of "The Machinist," a film about a man who can't sleep, hasn't slept in a very long time, and is finding that it's having some pretty deletirious effects on him, both physically and psychologically. The reasons why he can't sleep, and why the people around him are acting so strangely, are brought into gradual focus as the story progresses.    Christian Bale plays Trevor Reznik, who …
About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Ranked #96
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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As a bleak and chilling mood piece,The Machinistgets under your skin and stays there. Christian Bale threw himself into the title role with such devotion that he shed an alarming 63 pounds to play Trevor Reznik (talk about "starving artist"!), a factory worker who hasn't slept in a year. He's haunted by some mysterious occurrence that turned him into a paranoid husk, sleepwalking a fine line between harsh reality and nightmare fantasy--a state of mind that leaves him looking disturbingly gaunt and skeletal in appearance. (It's no exaggeration to say that Bale resembles a Holocaust survivor from vintage Nazi-camp liberation newsreels.) In a cinematic territory far removed from his 1998 romantic comedyNext Stop Wonderland, director Brad Anderson orchestrates a grimy, nocturnal world of washed-out blues and grays, as Trevor struggles to assemble the clues of his psychological conundrum. With a friendly hooker (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and airport waitress (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón) as his only stable links to sanity, Trevor reaches critical mass and seems ready to implode just asThe Machinistreveals its secrets. For those who don't mind a trip to hell with a theremin-laced soundtrack,The Machinistseems primed for long-term status as a cult thriller on the edge.--Jeff Shannon
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Director: Brad Anderson
Genre: Drama
Release Date: October 22, 2004
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: June 7, 2005
Runtime: 1hr 38min
Studio: Paramount
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