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The Machinist (2004)

DVD Cover (Paramount)
Director:
Brad Anderson Brad Anderson
Starring:
Christian Bale Christian Bale
Jennifer Jason Leigh Jennifer Jason Leigh
Aitana Sánchez-Gijón Aitana Sánchez-Gijón
John Sharian John Sharian
Michael Ironside Michael Ironside

7.4 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Psychological Thriller, Thriller
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: May 08, 2005
WARNING!!! SPOILERS!!! WARNING!!! SPOILERS!!!

Upon entering the theatre to see "The Machinist", I had mixed thoughts as to what I was about to see. The primary majority of the reviews have been glowing, with most of them basing their enjoyment on Christian Bale's amazing transformation as Trevor. Having seen the trailer, I knew how much weight he had lost, but nothing could have prepared me for those few opening minutes, with ribs and collar bones protruding to the point that it made you want to cover your eyes from discomfort. If you thought Tom Hanks massive weight loss for "Cast Away" was something, "The Machinist" will turn you into the biggest Christian Bale fan in the world. This is acting. This is dedication. This is the role actors dream of being given. And, with all of its oddity and surreality, "The Machinist" packs an emotional whallop and was one of the best motion pictures of the year.

Christian Bale stars as Trevor Reznik, a basically normal guy. During the day he works as a machinist at a local factory. At night, however, he has a number of activities, whether it be talking it up with the waitress at the airport, Marie (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon) or paying a visit to the local prostitute, Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh), whose conversation he enjoys more than the sex. Trevor also has a problem -- he has not slept in a year, literally. He occasionally nods off in his truck, or while watching television, but these instances only last for a few seconds, at the most. One day Trevor meets Ivan (John Sharian), a man who supposedly works in the same place as Trevor, though he does not recall having ever seen him before. Indirectly, Ivan causes Trevor to brush up against a machine, which causes a co-worker, Miller (Michael Ironside), to lose his arm. After this, bizarre things start to happen. All of Trevor's co-workers start acting bizarrely, leading Trevor to believe that they are all conspiring against him for the accident. Trevor also continues to have run-ins with Ivan, who he is told does not exist. Mysterious post-it notes also start to appear on Trevor's refrigerator, consisting of a hangman and six blanks at the bottom, with 'E' and 'R' as the only two letters filled in at the end.

How does this pay off? Once again -- SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT!!!!! At the end of the film, we are finally told that all of these happenings have been the direct result of an accident that occurred a year beforehand. Trevor ran over a small boy with his car and then drove away. We learn that his inability to sleep and continual weight loss has been a direct result of the grief he has felt over this incident. And Ivan? It turns out that Ivan is nothing more than Trevor's guilty conscience. This is made abundantly clear when, after the accident with Miller, Ivan's hand turns up gnarled. As soon as Trevor caused Miller's accident, his guilty conscience took on the same injury. As for Marie, the waitress at the airport -- completely fabricated; she was the mother of the little boy that he hit with the car. This ending comes as a complete shock in that we start thinking back to events in the film that make perfect sense now that we know the truth. For instance, when Trevor is asked if people are after him, he replies, "Not yet. But they will be when they know what I've done." This makes perfect sense. And, the little details, as when Trevor and Nicholas are riding through the Route 666 fun house and the little wooden boy runs out and is hit by the vehicle. Amazing symbolism.

Christian Bale is nothing short of amazing here. This is his best performance to date, and it really goes to show that he is one of the best young actors working today. His transformation is astounding, losing 63-pounds for this role and turning himself into a walking skeleton. His slow progression into the frail, neurotic mess we see at the end of the film is horrifying to watch. This was the equivalent of watching Jeff Goldblum change into Brundle Fly. The circles under his eyes slowly get darker and darker. His ribs start to show more and more. Even his speech starts to slur towards the end of the film. And, Jennifer Jason Leigh provides strong support as the prostitute who wants more from her relationship with Trevor. As for Michael Ironside -- he is still one of the most underrated actors out there and he takes this simple role and turns it into something memorable. All of the actors here, even the toothy John Sharian, are incredible, and they only add to the sense of fear and dread that surrounds this picture.

Alongside the performances, the technical achievements also help the film along. The score by Roque Banos is one of the most amazing of the year and totally fitting for a film like this. Sometimes, based on the music, we keep expecting a flying saucer to come tunneling out of the sky, only to realize that there is nothing of the sort about to happen. Alain Bainee takes art direction to a whole new level with his dark and gritty scenery, in everything from Trevor's meager apartment to the factory where he works. This is a collaboration that works. Director Brad Anderson has taken this script and molded it into something of eerie beauty...something that works not only as a psychological thriller, but also as a picture with a message. Even if that message is merely -- don't run away from the scene of a crime -- that doesn't mean it can't be just as powerful as any other. You cannot watch the ending of this film and not feel your heart tugging on you.

"The Machinist" is a work of art, from beginning to end, and a totally enjoyable movie going experience. Should Christian Bale find himself nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award? Definitely. Not honoring his achievements here would be a travesty and I don't think the Academy can give Hanks a nomination for "Cast Away" and snub Bale -- it just isn't right. If you have any desire to see a film that challenges the sense, as well as the emotions, then "The Machinist" will make your day. What seems like such a dark and sinister thriller at first turns into something far more persuasive and far more powerful at the end. Check this picture out -- you will not be disappointed. If you are -- maybe you just need to get some rest and see it again. 8/10.
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Chad #1: Chad - added 06/29/2005, 08:04 AM
This is the first film in over a year that I have watched and will not be reviewing for this site. The above review expresses my thoughts perfectly, and there's not much I could add to it. 8/10 from myself as well.
Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg #2: Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg - added 01/04/2007, 11:34 PM
As a personal favorite of mine, I believe this to be one of the best psychological thrillers out today.

9.3/10
danimigra #3: danimigra - added 03/15/2008, 07:21 PM
Pretty good movie so far... 9/10 for me.
Tobes #4: Tobes - added 01/04/2010, 12:09 PM
5 stars, 9/10 if I had reviewed it.

I kept thinking "This is like Fight Club" the whole time, but the reason for the visions was a little more interesting then FC was.
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