This common misconception that actors don’t work hard should be hushed after watching “The Machinist.” According to most reports, Christian Bale went from about 180 pounds to just fewer than 120 for this role, which was never seen by that many people. The quality of the film aside, for someone to put that much work into something is downright astounding. Never mind the fact that he began shooting “Batman Begins” shortly after. Though the film isn’t fantastic by any means, it has a “Fight Club” feel in the sense that it demands repeated viewings. Anyone who has seen the film will agree that is definitely a mind trip and a nice change of pace from the usual Hollywood fare released on a regular basis.
Bale plays Trevor Reznik, suffers from a horrible case of insomnia that has obviously affected both his personal life and overall health. His only friends are a prostitute he frequently uses and a waitress who pities him in his weakened, vulnerable state. No matter what he does, the inability to sleep has become a disease, and he can no longer control his life or his weight. In the beginning, his loss of control doesn’t seem to harmful. His simple sticky notes to pay bills and such begin to disappear and be replaced by notes containing riddles he can’t wrap his mind around. He soon begins contact with a co-worker invisible to everyone else and even loses focus at his work, dismembering another worker and spinning his life even more out of control.
His journey to figuring out what has gone wrong his life leads to clue after clue, followed by metaphors that lead him to a final conclusion. Though strange and creepy, it is executed well and the audience begins to feel for Reznik. The film is almost surreal when you combine the score of the film with its style and structure. You honestly feel that you are living in a different world than Reznik. This alone makes the film successful in my eyes. The film almost pays homage to Hitchcock in the sense that you know he is crazy, but you don’t know what he will do next or what is even real. You see, what Reznik sees isn’t necessarily true life, so it is quite a treat attempting to distinguish the real from the imagined.
Needless to say, Bale is fantastic in portraying a man that’s on the edge, but not quite over-the-top yet. His simple attempts at jokes proves that he is fighting for normalcy, and it struggling to separate the truth from the imagined at the same time as us. Though the film is executed almost perfectly throughout comes close to soiling the experience. We all know that the ending will be interesting and most likely contain a twist, but it didn’t seem fully developed. Without spoiling anything, it felt as though we were along for the ride for the entire film, struggling with Reznik to find and answers and clues, only to be abruptly presented with a speedy ending. Though the ending delivered in its content, it felt rushed and damaged the integrity of the film slightly. Either way, I now own both formats of this DVD and must tell you that its one of the best indie films in recent memory. Any fan of intriguing film style should check this out.
Film Rating: B plus
The first two features listed are only included on the blu-ray version of the film, and are definitely worth taking a look at:
“Manifesting the Machinist”: this awesome featurette explores Bale’s image and the intriguing narrative behind the film. Though it is definitely worth looking at, it could have certainly used Bale’s perspective
“Hiding in Plain Sight”: this featurette detailed the films twist ending and how its theme throughout the film manipulated the audience. Again, it was very interesting but was missing Bale’s perspective.
The rest of the stuff in transferred from the standard format DVD and includes a very detailed making-of featurette as well as the typical commentary tracks and deleted/extended scenes. The commentary track was actually quite excellent as director Brad Anderson picks apart everything he loved and hated about the movie.
Special Features Rating: B-
Overall Rating: B