Directed by Brad Anderson
Jennifer Jason Leigh
Running time: 102 minutes
Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale) is a machinist who hasn’t slept for a year. He seems to be losing his grip on reality as strange things start happening and he starts seeing things no one else can see. Is it due to his insomnia or is something more going on?
A few people voted for The Machinist when I asked everyone which film I should review next. It was a good few months ago that I saw it but I’ll do my best to recall my thoughts on the film.
I think it’s common knowledge how far Christian Bale was willing to go for this role when he lost weight to the point of looking dangerously emaciated. That was certainly impressive – it’s amazing what some actors will do to themselves for a role. I suppose it made his character even more believable as he certainly looked like someone who hasn’t slept in a year and is slowly losing his mind. So it’s a great performance from him but, physical appearance aside, doesn’t seem much different from other performances we’ve had from him. Am I in trouble for that? I’m sorry – he’s an actor I’ve never really liked but I’m not going to try to explain myself because I have no idea why I feel that way. So let’s move on. 😉
I enjoyed the story itself. I like a good psychological thriller. I’ve always liked films where someone is (or appears to be) “losing their mind”. That’s definitely the case here. Trevor starts seeing things no one else seems to see. He talks to a new co-worker named Ivan but when he mentions Ivan to his other co-workers, no one has heard of him. He starts finding post-it notes on his refrigerator showing a threatening game of hangman which progresses throughout the movie. Plus there’s what appears to be blood seeping out of his freezer door…
His only friends are a prostitute named Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and a waitress named Maria (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón) & her young son Nicholas. His co-workers, including Miller (played by Michael Ironside), turn on him when his apparent paranoia becomes a dangerous interference at work. Michael Ironside! I love that dude – Jack Nicholson on a budget. These co-stars were all good and seemed just right for their roles, especially Jason Leigh.
Christian Bale was very impressive in The Machinist, I thought everyone was well cast, and I had a fun time trying to figure out the mystery of whether or not Bale was actually going insane. Overall, though, the movie didn’t quite work for me. It was dark, dreary, had someone slowly losing his mind, and kept the audience guessing all the way as to what was actually going on. I like all those things so I’m not quite sure why I didn’t like it more than I did. It’s certainly worth a watch but is more of a “weekend afternoon” movie than I was expecting. In the end, I felt like I had watched a REALLY good Lifetime movie (minus Nancy McKeon). Oh, that’s harsh. Luckily, only those in the US of a certain age will know what I’m on about. And, hey – I loved those Lifetime movies. What I’m saying is that The Machinist ends up being more simple than it first appears. I was expecting something a little deeper but it was still a fun ride.
My Rating: 7/10