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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 34.31%
Just Average: 7.84%
Pretty Crappy: 2.94%
Sucks: 0.98%

8 reviews, 54 user ratings

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Machinist, The
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by Jay Seaver

"Man, Brad Anderson has gotten dark. He's good at it, though."
3 stars

This is Anderson's first feature based upon another person's screenplay, and it's fairly clear. His previous films had a much more evident spark of creativity to them, whether it be the background Sam claims in Happy Accidents or the literally dangerous atmosphere to the mental hospital in Session 9. Writer Scott Kosar's other credits are for horror movie remakes, and certain elements of The Machinist will seem very familiar.

The story unfolds at a leisurely pace. Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale) is a machinist at a tool and die company who hasn't been able to sleep for a year. He tries, but it just doesn't happen, and he fills his time off the floor by seeing a hooker (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and by coffee and conversation with a waitress (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón) at an airport diner. His apartment is sparse, devoid of any ornament, and he's wasting away - both women remark that if he were any thinner, he wouldn't exist. Soon, though, a man named Ivan (John Sharian) appears at his workplace, and when he distracts Trevor at one point, it sets of an accident that causes a co-worker to lose an arm. During the insurance investigation, though, Trevor is told that Ivan doesn't exist.

It's not terribly difficult to predict the trajectory of the movie after this - Reznik will get paranoid, he'll be shunned at work, and the audience will figure out well ahead of Reznik that someone who has gone seven thousand hours without sleep may not have the most reliable perspective on any given situation. That hampers the movie a bit, because when the audience knows something terribly obvious that the main character obviously doesn't, that character is always going to be a step or three behind. The only way for the audience not to feel frustrated with how dim the protagonist is then becomes "withheld information", which merely delays aggravation.

Anderson makes the movie visually striking, though - the desaturated colors are a good indicator of how numb Reznik seems to be growing to the world, with the occasional object rendered in full color (such as Ivan's red convertible) thus seeming to have significance. A sequence in an amusement park house-of-horrors ride is certainly disturbing. And the way in which Reznik opts to make his claim of a hit and run believable enough for the police to give him information on Ivan is not for the squeamish.

Still, the most talked-about visual in the movie is Christian Bale's insane weight loss. Dropping a third of the mass from his six-foot-two frame to a final weight of 130 pounds, Bale is so skinny as to make the audience uncomfortable. Heck, he tripped my reality filter - I looked at him and thought "that's a CGI effect; he doesn't look human". It certainly makes Reznik look like a ghost, fading away from his life. It occasionally overshadows the story and character, though, making me feel more like I was watching a freakshow than a movie.

And it can't be healthy. If I ever hear of my theater-major brother doing something like this for a role, I will call our mother and make sure that he is inundated with cookies and pies and cakes until he relents.

The story is of the variety that comes together well enough by the end, but starts to look a little less plausible about ten minutes later. As with many unreliable-narrator stories, that's when you can start to piece together what literally happened and what may not have, and that's fine, but when you try to figure out where the stuff that may not have comes from, why it interjects itself into Reznik's mind at that point and in that way, that's a little trickier

Whether you ultimately like or dislike the movie, Bale's emaciated body will stick in your mind, probably well after the somewhat derivative story and decent performances fade.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8511&reviewer=371
originally posted: 11/16/04 15:51:10
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Chicago Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Mill Valley Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Mill Valley Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Leeds Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Leeds Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/19/12 posttoastee Bale gives an impressive performance. Good stuff. 4 stars
12/03/08 Crabes Dostoïevsky would have been so proud of this powerful film ! 5 stars
9/29/08 L. Gary Captivating moroseness with a pedestrian ending. Bale shined througout. 4 stars
8/27/08 Alex Thorne A remarkable portrayal of the fragility of human sanity.Should have been oscar nominated 5 stars
5/02/07 Tracey Chambers anything with christian bale is worth a look 4 stars
4/13/07 cindy this is one good fucking movie. I can't believe how much weight he lost for this movie 5 stars
12/28/06 David Pollastrini boring, dull, etc. 2 stars
12/15/06 Minotaur AWESOME! I havent been able to get it out of my head for a week. 5 stars
9/23/06 teofisto great film, lost a lot of weight... true actor 4 stars
9/14/06 Beth Plaxco I can't believe the physical changes to make "the Machinist" after watcing "American "psych 5 stars
8/25/06 james burke Even if you see it coming it's still a fascinating film 5 stars
5/08/06 andy outstanding performances....thmbs up for bale..excellent progression of a wicked tale 4 stars
2/15/06 Carlos Idelone Dream-like like the Carnival of Souls 4 stars
1/08/06 Frenzy Just great 5 stars
12/02/05 sex trade worker christian bale is gorgeous 5 stars
11/19/05 Bestit 'Just an incredible film, no matter how you look at it...one of the best in years. 5 stars
10/12/05 eddiejohns I almost didn't recognize Mr. Bale. He's wonderful and the movie is fantastic! 5 stars
9/30/05 ShabbaRanks Hands down the best film of the year! Amazing!!! 5 stars
9/29/05 Lori Excellent, gripping, unnerving, totally had me in its spell 5 stars
9/15/05 del malliaros this movie is fucking awesome and at the end christian bale is gorgeous 5 stars
9/05/05 Dirk I am a machinist anything about this trade would have to a horror 5 stars
8/31/05 Badhobbit Reznik's experiences are a nightmare come to life. Spellbinding! 5 stars
7/31/05 TheOthersFan AAAAAAAAAAAAUGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! CHRISTIAN BALE WHAT DID YOU DO TO YOURSELF?!?!!!!!!?! 2 stars
7/30/05 KOR Indrid: Don't think they were going for the "David Lynch thing." Try Hitchcock or Kafka. 5 stars
7/21/05 Indrid Cold Very well done, but somehow doesn't quite pull off the David Lynch thing. 4 stars
7/18/05 Kankasaur It's refreshing to see a film that impresses both the art-house and artless. 5 stars
7/12/05 Frenzy Great story, great acting 5 stars
7/11/05 paige i dont understand the symbolism everyone is taking about......they speak about symbolism??? 5 stars
7/11/05 Taylor Fladgate Creepy creepy creepy...very good, would have been good except for the untied ending 4 stars
7/10/05 Brian Feiler Great mystery/suspensefull thriller. Bale almost appears to be dissapearing before our eyes 5 stars
7/05/05 Kirsten way overrated gimmicky crapola 2 stars
6/29/05 Phil M. Aficionado Haunting/daunting story, great casting/acting/directing -- just a little "much" in places. 4 stars
6/25/05 malcolm hypnotizing and intense. who woulda thunk skinny-ass Bale could make a great batman? 4 stars
6/21/05 Jim Dennen intense study of Christian Bales' character from a year with no sleep. Great casting! 5 stars
6/20/05 David Hollands A haunting mind-bender. Bale is fantastic. Anderson's direction is incredible. 5 stars
6/14/05 Phil Hunt Interesting...but entertaining 4 stars
6/05/05 John Bale Not since Polanski's REPULSION such a devasting essay into a disturbed mind 5 stars
6/04/05 ANNA unsettling, disturbing, tragic, thought provoking, one of best films i have ever seen 5 stars
6/04/05 Hack-SAW Not too bad... But it reminded me of "Session 9", "The Salton Sea" & "Fight Club"!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
5/11/05 MCKROB Creepy.. Christian Bale is fantastic... 5 stars
4/20/05 Caiphn Dark, sometimes hard to watch, outcome not as obvious as some of the reviews say. 4 stars
2/17/05 ALDO Only watch it if you liked "Angel eyes" and "Fight club"...Otherwise stay away 3 stars
1/29/05 Tiffany A must see performance by Christian Bale 5 stars
1/21/05 Uncle Phucker Pretty bad ass movie. Not totally original but brilliant looking and fine acted by cast. 4 stars
12/13/04 Lord Durvok 2 Anderson pwns! But this one was kind of... eh. 4 stars
12/06/04 pin Crime and Punishment adaptation - given a nod, no credit 4 stars
11/02/04 f. fendt confession: good for the soul, good for the body 5 stars
10/25/04 Klaus Great movie. Very dark. Definitely one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. 5 stars
10/25/04 P.J. Dunlevy Christian Bale - wonderful, physical performance. 4 stars
10/21/04 natasha Readers' Digest condensed version of Dostoevsky meets Fight Club 3 stars
7/01/04 jeffrey Weird!!! Maybe I'll like it more the 2nd time. A little slow to watch 4 stars
2/19/04 josh christian bale is god. 5 stars
2/08/04 Jake Absolutely wonderful, I am a big fan of Session 9 and this film equals that. 5 stars
2/07/04 CC Bad....to Crappy 1 stars
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  22-Oct-2004 (R)
  DVD: 07-Jun-2005



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