While at Sundance, we had the pleasure of viewing the newest offering from Director Brad Anderson (Session 9) and Christian Bale (American Psycho), entitled The Machinist. Before the viewing of the movie started, the writer Scott Kosar told the audience that it is a movie that is best when the viewer goes in without a lot of prior knowledge, so this review will follow accordingly.
The Machinist starts out mysteriously as one would expect, with Bale dumping a body, rolled in carpet, off a cliff. The identity of the cadaver is unknown, and remains that way throughout most of the film. Christian Bale plays the role of Trevor Reznik, an insomniac machine shop worker who weighs approximately 120 pounds (Bale lost 63 pounds for the role!). Reznik is not the kind of insomniac who stays up until the wee hours of the night, as far as he knows; he hasn’t slept in a year. The movie’s premise really begins when Reznik causes an accident at his job that causes a fellow worker to lose his arm. From here, things get progressively stranger as he begins to receive post-it notes on his refrigerator and has conversations with a man named Ivan, played by, John Sharian, who his co-workers claim doesn’t exist. These are not spoilers, but rather, the furthest extent of information that can be given away without ruining this masterpiece’s twists and turns.
What can be discussed, however, is the filmmaker’s commendable job of creating one of the darkest and most mysterious atmospheres seen on film in recent years. The director, Brad Anderson, does an amazing job of using lighting, or lack thereof, to create a gloomy mood and make the viewer feel almost as in the dark as Trevor Reznik. Another key element is Christian Bale, in yet another of his self disciplined roles. If you recall Bale’s physical condition from 2000’s American Psycho, he was a man in perfect condition, down to the last muscle. But in The Machinist he dropped 63 pounds and just about lost every last muscle to flawlessly portray a man who has lost the ability to sleep, and eat. Bale’s acting is incredible as usual and the character of Trevor Reznik seems almost impossible without him portraying him.
Overall, The Machinist delivers quite well as a dark thriller with plenty of unexpected surprises. The viewer is both disgusted with Reznik but at the same time, very enthralled with the outcome of his tormented character. You may or may not see the outcome of this film coming but nonetheless, it delivers. The Machinist is a mysterious adventure in the life of a broken man, and one that definitely should not be missed.