The Machinist is a dark thriller from 2004, directed by Brad Anderson and starring about 2/3 of Christian Bale. Watch the trailer here and you’ll see why I say that.
Trevor Reznik (Bale) is an insomniac factory machine worker who hasn’t slept for a year. Outside of work he fills his lonely life drinking coffee at an airport and seeing a call girl, Stevie. After Trevor causes a serious accident at work he begins to lose grip on reality. Trying to find the mysterious Man who distracted him during the accident. Finding notes he didn’t leave in his house. He becomes increasingly isolated, ostracized and paranoid trying to find out what the bloody hell is happening to him. Something I could sympathise with whilst I was watching the movie.
As you can see Bale is exceptionally underweight at 120 lbs. achieved by eating an apple a day to keep the doctor away. Except he didn’t eat anything else. This target weight was specified, by the director, for a man consideration shorter than the 6 ft Bale. After finishing filming he had 6 months to regain the weight and then some for Batman Begins. That is 60+ lbs of commitment … No wonder Bale has a rep for being a grumpy sod. That would make anyone miserable. Let alone a Welshman who keeps gaining and losing the weight of a small person on a regular basis.
But this pays off; Bale’s performance is troubling, unsettling and powerful. He physically embodies the distress of going without sleep for a year. His confusion is real. His paranoia is real. It is astonishing. It’s hard to imagine that this is the man responsible for the almost comically bronchitis laden Bat-voice of Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.
Good news for any colour blind readers out there because this film is for you! With colours ranging from the nausea grey sepia skin-tones to dark grey sky. The brightest colour you’ll see is Stevie’s faded blonde hair. This in practice serves a purpose though and thoroughly inserts you into Trevor’s world where everything has lost its vibrance. Compare this to Zack Snyders use of grey scale just to make everything practically impossible to see. (Prepare yourself for a whole load of squinting in next years DC fever dream.) This is just one of many great directorial decisions made by Brad Anderson. All of which serve to immerse you in Trevor’s delusions. This builds the tension throughout the film as you are just as clueless as Trevor as to what is real and what is not.
While the final act reveal is not as thrilling or seamless as that of Memento ( a great fim by Nolan)… it is satisfying and more importantly makes sense. They didn’t just Shyamalan this ending by phoning it in with a stupid plot twist… The Village. Or by blaming it on the trees…God damn “The Happening” is a terrible movie. ”HELP ME THE TREES ARE FIGHTING BACK!”
This is a very well directed movie and the result is darkly beautiful. The acting is great, the idea is original and the execution is spot on. I would definitely recommend watching this movie, at the very least it will make you appreciate a good nights sleep.
VERDICT: ”I Close my eyes… Drew back the curtain… To see for certain… What I thought I knew”
PS/ Kudos for making the outskirts of Barcelona look like a grim New York!