When a director has a specific “style” that they can claim as theirs, it makes them that much better, and that much more unique. This is one reason why director Brad Anderson (Session 9) is such a definitive entity in the entertainment business. His latest endeavor, The Machinist (another review), which stars Christian Bale, is a work of art that bleeds Brad Anderson’s personal fingerprints all over it. Although, without Christian Bale’s unsettling and brilliant performance, I don’t think this movie could have ever been complete.
The story follows a man by the name of Trevor Reznik who is a Machinist. Something is wrong with him, but we don’t know what it is exactly. According to his friends and co-workers, he has lost a lot of weight and appears to be on drugs. Then things get weird, he meets a man named Ivan- who his boss claims doesn’t exist, but Trevor is sure that this guy is real. Ivan keeps getting Reznik into mass amounts of trouble and causing him all sorts of stress. Meanwhile, someone keeps breaking into Trevor’s house and leaving him notes on his refrigerator. At the same time Trevor is seeing two women, one played by Jennifer Jason Leigh who is a prostitute and the other is a mom who works at the airport. Bizarre things continue happening and Trevor’s life seems to be out of control- will he be able to survive? Is he really going crazy?
The lighting in The Machinist takes me back to The Ring remake with its dark blue flushes that leave you in an emotional bind throughout the film. The film is dark, just like Trevor Reznik and when you see the finale, you will completely understand why the overtone was used. The Machinist is cliche’ and takes numerous aspects and twists from other popular horror films to use as its own- only Scott Kosar’s (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Amityville Horror) script uses the old twists and turns for his own purpose- a fresh purpose. Kosar’s intellectual story is a sad one and could almost be called a drama- even though it leaves you with one major mind-fuc*k. When the reasons behind the madness become clear, you cannot believe the outcome- it truly is shocking.
If you were to ask me who my favorite actor was before I saw The Machinist, I would say Christian Bale, but if I had never heard of the man before this film he would instantly become a favorite of mine after the performance he put on. Bale believes in discipline, and he loves to see how far he can go- for The Machinist, he lost a whopping 63 pounds and dropped down to 120. He’s skinny as hell, you can see the outline of his skull, you can see every part of his ribs and his arm looks like you could wrap your finger and thumb around it- and remember the camera ADDS 5 pounds! Not that having the discipline to lose weight makes him a good actor, it’s his performance as Trevor Reznik that’s mystifying and uncanny. I usually can’t understand it when people talk about ‘believability’ in a characters role (with the exception of Keanue Reeves), but when you see Bale in this film, you lose yourself in it. You believe he IS Trevor Reznik and you feel so bad for the guy. He seems genuinely nice and really bothered by these events- and he makes you want to feel bad for him. Obviously there is a purpose behind this, but I swear to you, you will never guess what happens at the end, and when you find out you will be asking yourself is this really possible? Bale’s performance plays a major role in the effectiveness of the conclusion, without him, this could have been just another movie- but with him it became something much much more.
One thing that I love about Brad Anderson is that he could do bigger and more lucrative features, but he chooses to stick with making projects that he loves. In saying this, you really can call The Machinist a work of art- his passion and soul went into this movie and so did Christian Bale’s. The Machinist is a spiritual film that dwells deep in the human soul and explores the torment of one mans life. The Machinist is the film that’s one for the ages- not the Passion of the Christ. If you want to be motivated to become a better person, watch an actual movie instead of a snuff film and take your hard earned money and use it on a movie-going experience you’ve never felt. The Machinist will kick you in the ass, punch you in the gut and then knock you out- it will torment you, shock you and have you leaving the theater without words. But ultimately you will absolutely love it and then pray that more sophisticated mind candy like The Machinist hits theaters in the future. You can check out Brad Anderson’s film on October 15th from Paramount Classics.