The Machinist

  • Film
  • Drama
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Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale) doesn’t have the happiest of lives. He’s virtually ostracised by colleagues at the plant where he operates a lathe; the only company he keeps is with a whore (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and an airport-diner waitress (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon) who he chats to nightly; he’s so skeletally skinny that folks openly comment on it, and he hasn’t slept for ages. Still, he’s mostly a pleasant, pretty calm character – until the mysterious Ivan (John Sharian) enters his life…
From the opening sequence – Trevor wrapping a corpse in his carpet and taking it to the sea – it’s clear we’re in for some heavy-duty expressionism. A lick of Lynch, a pinch of Polanski, a modicum of ‘Memento’, heaps of Herrmannesque  menace on the music track – all this and Anna Massey, mirrors, dismemberment, machinery, dead mothers, doubles, Dostoevsky, post-it notes, power cuts, ghost trains, sewers, bleach…
Director Brad Anderson and writer  Scott Kosar toss everything including the kitchen sink into the pot, as their emaciated somnambulist protagonist tries to fathom how he got to such a bleary, bruised and scarred state of being (or not-being?). The resulting stew, frankly, is a bit messy; though it almost makes some kind of psychological sense, it never really persuades as an authentic portrait of a tormented mind.
That said, it’s very watchable; above all, one can’t deny the dubious appeal of the spectacle of the skin-and-bone Bale, quite possibly endangering his health for the sake of his art. Against the odds, the crazed intensity of his performance makes the movie work.

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday March 11 2005
Duration: 102 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Brad Anderson
Screenwriter: Scott Kosar
Cast: Christian Bale
Jennifer Jason Leigh
Aitana Sánchez-Gijón
John Sharian
Michael Ironside
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