Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Machinist (2004)

Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh): Are you okay?
Trevor (Christian Bale): Don't I look okay?
Stevie: If you were any thinner, you wouldn't exist.

Ivan (John Sharian): You shootin’ coke or somethin’? You look like a dope fiend to me. No offense.
Trevor: I don’t use drugs. Normally, I don’t even drink.
Ivan: How ‘bout abnormally?

At a glance: Christian Bale produces a terrifyingly haunted, must-see performance as an emaciated insomniac living in his own personal nightmare, in this dark, moody, and effective film by talented director Brad Anderson

Having recently seen and been wildly impressed with Brad Anderson’s Transsiberian, I was interested in viewing this, his earlier work. In this film, Christian Bale is Trevor Resnik, and emaciated, lonely machinist. To call him an insomniac would be slightly understating his condition. His isolation, lack of sleep, and perhaps his life history combine to place him in a endless purgatory of existence, one in which the only escape may be to disappear – or face the truth. Bale is as haunted by his portrayal as we are; he is also frighteningly skeletal. I’ve seen many an anorexic woman, but I haven’t seen a man’s body this skinny since I gazed at photos from World War Two concentration camps. Reportedly, Bale dropped 60 pounds, from 180 to 120, for the role. Bale’s build looked especially shocking since just a couple of days ago, I saw him all bulked up in The Dark Knight. Brad Anderson’s compact and picture-perfect direction turns a somber, brooding story into images of dark poetry. Rating: 3.5 of 4

"An absorbing and eerie study of paranoia and psychological torment."
- Chuck O'Leary (Fantastica Daily)

"Anderson's use of lighting, editing, sound design, and score hit just the right nerve endings, creating a film that keeps turning over in your mental gears for days afterward."
- Brian Mckay (

"[Bale's] is a great performance, full of commitment and sacrifice, and The Machinist is one of the year's best films."
- Roger Moore (Orlando Sentinel)

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