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A strong mood piece, but not for everyone
Surecure29 October 2004
There are many good things about The Machinist that are well deserving of praise. The very atmospheric nature of the film is supported very strongly by excellent performances all around. Christian Bale takes things to the extreme in his embodiment of his character. It is hard to take seeing him in his near-starvation body mass, which elevates the tension of this piece even further. The storyline leaves a little to be desired. While it creates its mood excellently, it does tend to plod along a little too much.

One thing that does stand out is how reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock this film plays. Almost everything about the film screams Hitchcock, from the editing of certain scenes (the driving sequences are very much in the style of Psycho) to the Bernard Herrmann-esquire score (lots of bass clarinet), the lack of fully-exploring/revealing some of the creepier points of the film (what is dripping from the fridge?), and the washed out, grainy photography. If you want to see what a film would look like if Hitchcock were alive to film it today, this is the closest thing you could probably come across. And if that was part of Brad Anderson's intention in directing this, I have to commend him on the execution because it is uncanny.

Overall, I would recommend this film, but not to casual movie-goers. This is very much a movie-phile experience for those who appreciate character development and cinematography as much as plot points and a storyline that can be defined and followed from one action to the next. In that way it is closer to films like Magnolia or the Others, where the apex is the characters. If you are looking for a typical popcorn Hollywood thriller, this is not what you are looking for.
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Antagonisten21 November 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this film at the Stockholm International Film Festival in November 2004. In the audience was director Brad Anderson, and i think he very much appreciated how the film was received by the rest of the audience. And this film was well worth the applause.

This film is about a man (Christian Bale) working in a heavy industry. He suffers from insomnia and hasn't slept for a year. This condition is causing him to lose weight, and his perception of reality to become twisted. Soon he doesn't know what's real or not.

I won't elaborate any more on the plot since it could really spoil the film for you. There are some twists and turns along the way that might not be all that obvious and you should be able to enjoy them without being told too much. What i can say though is that the story is in no way revolutionary. A couple of films have been made in the same vein as this one, the most famous perhaps being Memento and Fight Club. And "The Machinist" shares elements from both these films but still, i think, manages to create an identity of it's own.

But aside from the story, Christian Bale really steals the show. Having seen him in his previous films it's hard to be prepared for what he looks like here. For this film he has turned himself into a walking skeleton, a run-down shadow of a man. And his performance is, throughout the movie, mesmerizing. I have ever since American Psycho been fully convinced of Bale's talents as an actor, and this further proves his talent and commitment. The rest of the cast also do a good job, strengthening the overall strange mood of the film.

Although i thoroughly enjoyed this film i understand it's not for everyone. This is not the least proved by the fact that Brad Anderson (as he stated in the interview after the screening) could not get funding for it in America. Instead he had to go to Spain to make the film the way he wanted to. And i'm not surprised, this is not your standard Hollywood fare. But for those of us who enjoy films that go beyond the will to suit everyone (and make loads of money) this is a rewarding experience. I rate it 7/10.
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A grower
Superunknovvn17 April 2005
It's a common rule that people subconsciously decide within the first ten minutes whether they like a movie or not. It didn't even take me that long to know that I would be intrigued by "The Machinist".

The set up is perfect. It's adorable how the movie constantly establishes new plot points without ever getting tedious. As the story goes on it gets hard to believe that the ending will be able to explain everything and you start pondering that there can only be one possible conclusion for all the weird events. It may be disappointing at first to learn that your predictions are probably dead-on and you might go: "Not that old twist again." The beautiful thing, however, is that there's an explanation to the twist that really adds a lot to the concept. Much later, when you've already left the theater and you rethink the whole thing, you'll find that the script is much cleverer than you had thought at first. To me the biggest achievement of the movie in retrospective is, that it's never creepy just for the sake of freaking the audience out (and hell, the carnival-sequence is so friggin creepy and well made, it's delightful). Every scene has its purpose and that is not often the case in horror and mystery movies.

Although the whole cast did a fine job, Christian Bale's terrific performance must be mentioned. Usually I'm annoyed by stories about actors losing or gaining weight in preparation for a role, because mostly it's uncalled for anyway and not even worth a mention. What Bale did to prepare for "The Machinist", however, is nothing short of heroic. He lost 60 pounds and looks so unhealthy throughout the whole movie that it's hard to believe he turned into himself again after the director yelled "cut!".

I can recommend "The Machinist" to anybody who's looking for a movie that keeps you intrigued longer than just during its running time. If after 10 minutes you like the movie, after days you'll find yourself still obsessed with it. I love it, when a movie does that to me!
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An urban nightmare with an incredible performance by Christian Bale
Camera-Obscura13 November 2006
THE MACHINIST (Brad Anderson - Spain 2004).

Christian Bale is Trevor Reznik, a machinist in an anonymous factory somewhere in America. He is obviously scarred by some past incident but what is it? He finds mysterious notes on his refrigerator, saying 'who are you?' He sees colleagues that don't exist. He seems to have lost it completely.

A Spanish production, but with Brad Anderson at the helm as director and an almost exclusively American cast, this is basically an American film. I must admit, I kept shelving this one, due to reasons I cannot really recall now I've finally watched it, but it probably had something to do with Christian Bale's insane weight loss and all the surrounding publicity. I assumed the film was all about Bale's loss of weight and not much more. A method boy in a film solely hyped for an actor's dedication to play the part, but the film blew me away, as simple as that. Christian Bale gives a solo turn here almost unseen before. No matter how many pounds he lost, it's a remarkable performance.

Director Brad Anderson succeeds brilliantly in conceiving an atmosphere that is so compelling, as one other user on the IMDb stated, 'You just HAVE to know what the hell is going on here.' I think that's the key factor in what makes this film so incredibly compelling. The whole setting is an anonymous industrial town somewhere in the US, that could be Pennsylvania, Michigan or upstate New York (actually, it was shot near Barcelona), but it doesn't really matter where the story is located. It's the atmosphere of estrangement that does it. And Christian Bale gives such an intense performance you really want to know his cause and background. Where on earth does he come from? We know he works in a greasy factory, but why is he skin-over-bone? Why hasn't he slept in over a year? Brad Anderson creates an atmosphere so broody and sleazy, it's like a netherworld, an urban nightmare. In a certain way it reminded me of the strange urban landscape in "Eraserhead" by David Lynch.

Camera Obscura --- 9/10
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A Dark and Spooky Psychological Thriller
noralee22 November 2004
"The Machinist" demonstrates that "Session 9" wasn't the only creepy thriller that Brad Anderson could do.

While M. Night Shyamalan and commercial fare like "The Grudge" get the attention and the big bucks, Anderson is quietly mastering disturbing, psychologically scary shockers. While the previous movie took advantage of our imaginations leaping around a spooky environment, "The Machinist" makes our discomfort palpably visual in Christian Bale's painful to look at body, as his character is ravaged by insomnia and loss of appetite; by the end of the movie it's shocking to see his normally handsome face.

But all the focus on his astounding weight loss takes away from the other elements in the almost black and white film that make it a scare fest. The movie establishes "The Twilight Zone" mood immediately with the soundtrack, which includes generous use of the theremin, as Hitchcock did in "Psycho." The production design is excellent at supporting the mood.

The suspense builds and is sustained through to the satisfying conclusion as you genuinely get involved in Bale's efforts to solve the increasingly mysterious happenings around him. Even though you are pretty sure he could be hallucinating, you are intrigued to figure out the trigger.

Despite looking like a caricature of a Holocaust victim, Bale creates a full character, from the jocular male camaraderie of the factory where he doesn't quite seem to fit in to responding one beat off to the warmth of the two women in his life, a waitress and a prostitute with the an open heart of gold (played, as usual by Jennifer Jason Leigh, but effectively languid).
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Dostoyevsky and The Machinist
Peggypegstor25 March 2005
I really enjoyed this film. It reminded me of 21 Grams, Jacob's Ladder and Memento. Perhaps the finale left a few questions unanswered or felt a little anti-climactic but an amazing performance by Christian Bale. Haunted, brave, vulnerable, murderous but also very moving. A film which stays with you.

Now, here's an eggheaded thing, but did anyone notice the constant stream of Dostoyevsky references in the movie? Not only did Resnick (remind anyone of Raskolnikov?) put down a copy of Dostoyevsky's The Idiot at one point but the whole movie owed a lot to Notes From The Underground, Crime And Punishment and The Double. Did anyone spot the sign in the Ghost Train sequence which read Crime And Punishment? Or that Sharian's character is called Ivan (cf The Brothers Karamazov - especially the chapter Ivan's Dream)? Jennifer Jason Leigh's character is very familiar from Dostoyevsky, as was the saintly Maria.

Its a cracking film and none of these references are indispensable to enjoying it but I thought I would point it out.
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'Thinner' meets 'Memento' by way of 'Angel Heart' a la Hitchcock
george.schmidt25 October 2004
THE MACHINST (2004) ***1/2 Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, John Sharian, Michael Ironside, Reg E. Cathey.

'Thinner' meets 'Memento' by way of 'Angel Heart' a la Hitchcock

There are a few select actors who have gained or shed weight to make a true transformation on screen but the one that will probably remain imprinted for years to come is the truly shocking display by Christian Bale who lost a whopping 63 lbs. to a skeletal shell of 120 for his portrayal of dank creepy perfection.

Bale stars as the afflicted Trevor Reznik, a shell of a man who works in a machine factory and apparently is nursing some horrible demon that has led to his astonishing appearance, ghostly pallor and paranoia soaked delusions that call to question his amazing confession: How can a man not sleep for an entire year and waste away to a shadow of his being and keep his sanity?

The answer isn't so transparent as Reznik becomes submerged in some sort of dreamscape nightmare of conspiracy theories and the innate distrust of his own mind playing tricks on him one night when he encounters the perpetually grinning Ivan (Sharian sporting the sharkiest Cheshire Cat smile in recent film memory) an apparently new shift employee who distracts him to the point of a horrific accident that causes his employer and co-worker to mistrust him and suspect his deteriorating looks as something a tad more sinister.

Reznik's only solace is in literally a mother-whore relationship he shares with a well-meaning lovely waitress (Sanchez-Gizon) at the airport diner he frequents as much as the hooker he lies with to express his thoughts and odd happenings (Leigh in her umpteenth whore role that must have filled her quota by now).

After the accident Reznik is plagued with a series of Post-Its sporting a game of hangman that leads to a few clues to his rationale and ultimately to his fate of 'Who Am I?'

Directed by Anderson who helmed the criminally underrated spooky horror flick 'Session 9' a few years back returns to a dark story of a man clearly unraveling and destroying himself in the process that echoes Stephen King's 'Thinner' by way of the identity crises of 'Memento' and the psychological thriller 'Angel Heart' yet invokes a sharply executed script by Scott Kosar (who penned the worthy remake of 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' last year) that recalls David Fincher meets David Lynch paroxysms of fate and the build up to a discovery that is all too recognizable to the thriller genre in recent years of identity masked as phobic reality with its latter day Hitchcock everyman skewed nicely. Kudos to cinematographers Xavi Gimenez and Charlie Jiminez for its bleak, green/grey drudgery and the Herrmannesque score by Roque Banos mixes perfectly to the dread at hand displays.

Bale went above and beyond the call of duty in his somewhat controversial display of Holocaust invoking demeanor yet it works shockingly well as it delves into the troubled soul of a man who is wasting away not only as a metaphor but as a penance for some hell to pay.
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One of the greatest films ever, a must watch
michaelwoods-1191116 May 2019
Warning: Spoilers
This film is about what isolation, guilt and insomnia can do to the human mind, even after watching it 100 times it remains a very mysterious interesting film. We may never truly know who exactly Ivan was, but I suppose that's part of the reason that makes this film so great to me as I have the freedom to assume who exactly Ivan is. I've always personally thought Ivan is the ghost of Trevor's old childhood friend who Trevor either forgot about or doesn't recognise, and that Ivan's spirit basically helped sort Trevor out. Others say that Ivan was simply Trevor's other personality, but I like to believe that Ivan was actually Trevor's best friend from childhood, it makes sense considering Ivan and Trevor (pre-car accident) are so alike. The open ended complex mystery behind The Machinist is mostly what makes the film so great, but of course it's filled with suspense, surprises and raw emotion too which make it a truly stunning film to watch. The characters are all quite interesting as well I think, didn't think there was a dull character in it at all. Overall this film is in my top 10 films ever and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes psychological thriller films or Fight Club.
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A Dark and Somber Maze of Altered Reality
gradyharp8 June 2005
THE MACHINIST is a mesmerizing film, a journey through the interstices of a mind deprived of sleep, of nourishment, and a mind that struggles to untangle the chaos of a past of guilt and terror. And the journey is terrifying.

When the film opens we meet Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale) or at least the emaciated, tortured remains of a man who hasn't slept for a year. We don't know why this worker in a machine factory is in such condition: the story unwinds slowly so that by the end we accompany Reznik in his shock to his moment of discovery. It is the getting there that is the tough beauty of this amazingly rich film as written by Scott Kosar and directed by Brad Anderson.

The setting is always dark as though the state of mind is a nightmare. Reznik's meager existence is challenged when he is involved in an industrial accident in which a fellow worker Miller (Michael Ironside) loses an arm. Shocked by the accident (for which Reznik feels responsible) the various few people in his life seem supportive: a hooker named Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a waitress in an airport all night diner Marie (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón), and an ambiguous bald man Ivan (John Sharian) who appears to Reznik in strange ways.

Reznik's mind slowly disintegrates into paranoid delusions, the only way he can hold his life together is by post-its reminding him first of his documented progressive weight loss, then of his needs, then of his secret mystery. To say more would be a great disservice to the extraordinary plot.

Christian Bale delivers one of the most committed performances on film. He not only physically inhabits Reznik with his skeletal appearance, he also mentally nurtures all the nuances of fear, pain, pleasure and madness that build as his character's reason for a year of insomnia is revealed at the very end. We stand in suspense with him and his fall is as powerful as any Dante ever devised. The entire cast is superb but special kudos go to Jennifer Jason Leigh who finally has a role that allows her to demonstrate the spectrum of skill she possesses as an actress. Not an easy film, this, but a very important one. Highly recommended - but not to see alone! Grady Harp
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darkly atmospheric horror/mystery
ThrownMuse15 December 2004
Trever Reznick is an industrial machine operator who hasn't slept in a year and feels as if he is going crazy. A horrible accident in the workplace causes him to fall further down the spiral. Is there a conspiracy against him or is he going insane? The lead character is played with discomforting perfection by a repulsively thin and unrecognizable Christian Bale. This is a very moody and atmospheric film that is reminiscent of Lynch (though, by the end, it is a much more spelled-out than Lynch would do for the viewer). Still, it is a very gripping and disturbing movie. "The Machinist" is one of the better horror films released this year. My Rating: 8.5/10
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The modern reincarnation of a Greek tragedy
K_Todorov27 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
After his chilling horror "Session 9" Brad Anderson continues his journey exploring the darkest depths of the human mind with "The Machinist". This review is not meant to just show the aesthetic and structural qualities Anderson's movie has, but also to distance it from the impression of being a "Fight Club rip-off". The review CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS on both The Machinist and Fight Club and should only be read by people who have already seen these two movies.

Those who are familiar with Aristotle's view on art and specifically the mimesis and catharsis theories will find similarities here, or should I say an exact match to his idea for a "tragedy". "The Machinist" mimics the real world. It is not a supernatural or fantasy story, but something possible in the context of reality keeping to the "mimesis" theory (art should be something that imitates life, stays close to the rules on what is possible). The protagonist, a machinist, is plagued by insomnia and weight loss, the reason for this suffering isn't explained from the start, but later on. We sympathize with him, with the problems this man, Trevor Reznik, has. Why should an innocent, suffer like that, we ask. Why should he be punished if he hadn't committed a crime? The tragic catharsis, writes Aristotle, is the moment when the protagonist's sin is revealed, when we, the audience learn that the punishment he has received isn't unjust, when we know that innocence isn't subjectable to punishment, sin is. Scott Kosar wrote a Greek tragedy, Brad Anderson brought it to life.

The atmosphere? A bleak, nearly colorless look, sadness and dread combined. The gloomy melancholy, jitters the mind. Christian Bale's dedication to his craft is outstanding he takes it to a whole new level. What he underwent for this role, the performance, a range of emotions ranging from fear, shock, paranoia, regret,sorrow. It was more than Oscar-worthy, it was unreal. Director Brad Anderson creates tension and unease at places you wouldn't think it was possible, he delivers surprise after surprise in what may seem more like a hellish roller-coaster ride, then a traditional thriller. A low key musical score, perfect choice, for the tone. Quite a catching opening tune.

"The Machinist", it seems, ends with questions unanswered. The main plot line has been completed but some mechanisms that lead towards the conclusion are a bit fogged out of perception. Nonetheless they are there. The movie is, of course, open for interpretation and the following is simply my take on some of the sub-plots and characters.

On the opening scene. The opening scene is as we've learned, not a chronological first, but a sequence taken from the latter stage. Why? It exists as: –a stylistic approach to create tension, to grab the audience's attention from the start. –an early tip for the mystery the movie has (note Reznik's reaction, the shock in his eyes when dumping the body and when "someone" flashes him with a flashlight).

On the insomnia, weight loss and Ivan. The insomnia and Ivan are the reasons for "The Machinist" being a "Fight Club" ripoff argument. There were movies that used such ideas before Fight Club, Lynch's Lost Highway for example, it's nothing all too original. What these elements represent that is what's important. In "The Machinist" they are the punishment Trevor's guilt inflicts on him. We've all experienced guilt at one point or the other, and we know it can have an effect. Here that effect is taken to the extreme. Fight Club on the other hand had the Narrator's insomnia and split personality, Tyler Dyrden, created from frustration, his inability in adapting to the status quo, he can't sleep because he cannot see a reason for his existence, he makes Tyler who gives him a reason. Ivan is not a split personality, he doesn't take control over the protagonist's body like Tyler, no one except Reznik has seen or heard of him, he is a manifestation like Nicholas or Marie, he is the projection of sin and Trevor in the past. The Trevor who caused the accident, he will repeat it again in order to guide Bale's character to the truth.

On how Trevor Reznik lost his memory about the accident. During the sequence at the theme park where Trevor and Nicholas are walking through the dark tunnel, Trevor notes the similarities between his childhood and Nicholas's current life. Both lacked or lack a father-like figure in their life both are in a good relationship with their mothers. This is not an accident, since Nicholas is merely one of the manifestations in Reznik's subconscious mind there is little doubt that he is also a mirror image of Trevor as a young boy living with his mother. His subconscious guilt fills the gaps and fleshes out the two fictional characters using bits and pieces of his past life. This is done in order to make the two manifestations become believable to Trevor's now doubtlessly distorted perception. If Nicholas is in fact Trevor then what happened to Nicholas during the ride through "Route 666" is what actually happened to Trevor shortly after the accident. Epileptic shock as explained by Marie causes loss of memory "he will forget it ever happened". And indeed Trevor forgot, partially, in his subconscious the memory still existed.

Complex but structurally sound "The Machinist" is the dark, modern reincarnation of a Greek tragedy. Twisted and disturbing, sad but liberating, Scott Kosar, Brad Anderson and Christian Bale create a work of high caliber. Not something that can be enjoyed the way a Hollywood Blockbuster can be enjoyed, it is exhausting, yet pleasing in its own way.
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Haunting and Incredible!
Toolman9114 December 2004
Saw this incredible movie tonight and all I can say is WOW!! This movie is one you should definitely see if you enjoy such quality films like Vertigo, Psycho and most recently Identity. Massive kudos to Christian Bale who turned himself into a skeleton for the role and the wonderfully articulate pace of the director! As you watched it, you knew that there were answers at the end and the journey was simply captivating! Also fine, fine work by Michael Ironside and the absolutely gorgeous Jennifer Jason-Leigh who to this day looks just as hot as she did in Fast Times! If you have a chance to see this film and an open mind, make the trip to the ciniplex! Fantastic film!
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Moody and atmospheric, but ultimately predictable
michaeljharvey27 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The Machinist gives us the story of a man who hasn't slept in over a year. He's losing weight, his health is declining, and there's the possibility he's losing his sanity.

Christian Bale is excellent as the emaciated machinist, Trevor Reznik. The amount of weight he lost for this role is truly shocking. He lives in a dark, depressing world, in which he is (literally) slowly disappearing. Eventually he starts seeing strange things: A creepy coworker no one else can see. A waitress and her child who might not even exist. Cryptic notes are left on his refrigerator at home. Is he the victim of a conspiracy, or is he losing his mind?

The film attempts to weave a complex plot that keeps us guessing by blurring fantasy and reality. The Machinist falls in the same genre as Fight Club, Donnie Darko and Mulholland Drive. However, while those excellent movies gave us complex characters and intricate plots, there's not much mysterious about The Machinist. Most seasoned movie-watchers will guess that Reznik is living in a fantasy world fairly quickly. There's no real shock or surprise at the conclusion. We've seen this done before in better films.

I won't give an exact spoiler detailing what has caused Reznik's psychological break from reality. Rest assured, it's fairly trite and expected. This is essentially a morality tale about lingering guilt and eventually doing the right thing. For a film with an artistic, independent attitude, The Machinist is little more than a formulaic psychological thriller. Director Brad Anderson is clearly talented and this movie almost worked brilliantly. It just needed a little more complexity in character development and plot to truly engage (and surprise) the audience. After well over an hour of building suspense, one is left disappointed by the mundane conclusion.
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A new Raskolnikov
Vincentiu16 November 2006
A strange story about freedom and guilty. Modern image of "Crime and Punishment". Our life like a shadow of the dreams and fear. Like a research a way of personal truth. No salvation, no cure. Only a refuge in a great lie. This movie is an important experience. Not like a theoretical experience,like a game without value, like a joke. "The Machinist " is a trip in your mind, in your memory, in the life's essence. "I am the other" said Rimbaud. But who? A ghost? A shadow? A body? A toy? The essence of movie is the relation with the world and the form of honesty. The presence of God in this movie is the way of resurrection. The car, the boy, the work accident, Maria, Ivan , Miller are the steps of a very special salvation. And Christian Bale, in his best character, a new Raskolnikov, know to give a great sense of truth to Trevor Reznik. A real master-piece!
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Heavy stuff
Rogue-322 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers

Ever since I moved to California (from NYC) and started driving, I've always had it in the back of my mind that I had to be extremely careful that I didn't hit anyone while I was in my 2000+ lb. machine, particularly a child. I've always felt that this would be one of the worst things that could possibly happen in someone's life ~ how it would be just unforgivable, and how it would cause unfathomable guilt. So this film had a profound effect on me, by the end of it, when we find out what's really at the bottom of Trevor's severely tormented state of mind.

The film exists inside this mind; the entire film is experienced from this drastically tortured vantage point. Trevor no longer can perceive what is real and what isn't, and so we're not sure either. At first I was thinking the whole thing was a dream, but that didn't quite make sense, because from the way it's shot, with some of the scenes having a little color in them, and some nearly black and white, it felt more like hallucinations were occurring along with some flashes of reality. I think the filmmakers do an absolutely brilliant job in letting us into Trevor's head. Of course, Bale's 110% commitment to the project certainly doesn't hurt. Magnificently realized, The Machinist is a harrowing and monumentally sad cinematic experience.
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A Nutshell Review: The Machinist
DICK STEEL10 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
There is a purpose in watching this movie, and that is to check out Christian Bales's acting chops before his Batman Begins opens in the summer.

The narrative is confusing at first. There doesn't seem to be any clear direction on where the plot and its subplots lead to. All we know is Bale looks thin, for some reason, isn't getting enough sleep, and develops relationships with a widow, her kid, and a hooker.

As always, most dark thrillers have a twist at the end, and if you can sit tight, you'll get it - not that it will be presented in a confusing manner, just that the pacing could be improved. Actually with shows like Fight Club and Memento around, this show might feel like a fusion between the two, and hence, you might have warranted a guess on the twist midway through the show.

Christian Bale has sacrificed quite a bit to look the role. With the lingering full body shots of his anorexic body, which at times is painful to look at, one can imagine the kind of toil it must have took.

Definite for fans of mysteries and thrillers.
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I'm Still Waiting
mido50514 June 2005
I really wanted to like The Machinist. As this film and his previous effort, Session 9, show, Brad Anderson is one of the best visual stylists working in film today, able to conjure up a dank, eerie, foreboding atmosphere from a budget that would not pay for David Fincher's lunch. He has a great compositional sense, is not afraid to be leisurely, and has a refreshingly uncluttered approach to mis-en-scene. Yet The Machinist, like Session 9, ultimately disappoints. I think there are two reasons for this.

The first is that, absent the conceit of Christian Bale's astonishing transformation, there is very little reason for this film to exist. The Machinist is a character study of a character who has, yes, very little weight. Despite Bale's best efforts, Trevor Reznick is a blank, a cypher, unpleasant and uninteresting. Although the film abounds in Hitchcock references, Anderson, screenwriter Scott Kosar, and Bale fail to assimilate the master's most important lesson: that the film's weirdo should be its most sympathetic and likable character. Anthony Perkins was cast as Norman Bates because of his image as the sweet, sensitive boy next door; Christian Bale, a prodigiously talented, but chilly and distant actor was, most assuredly, not.

As a character, Resnick lacks progression; because he is skeletal and bonkers from the beginning, there is no sense of horror as he is (quite literally) consumed by his own guilt. For this to work, some kind of contrast with normality is needed - the audience must witness a sensitive, precious soul slowly destroyed because of one small dreadful mistake. But Resnick is no Prince Myshkin. Rather, his guilt seems to be the only interesting thing in his otherwise dim, uncomprehending existence. The guilt gives his tedious life drama, meaning, and coherence. The film's final revelation should have been a shattering emotional climax; instead, it is the excuse for Resnick to take a much needed nap.

The second reason for The Machinist's failure is that Anderson seems to have trouble abandoning himself to his chosen genre. His direction of The Machinist, and of Session 9 as well, is detached, clinical, unengaged. There is no sense of love, or of passion, in what he is doing. Anderson seems drawn to horror, tempted by the opportunity it offers him to show what he can do with a camera, but he seems afraid to commit, to give himself over. It's as if he is too good, too cultured, too intelligent, too rational, for this kind of film. Yet he keeps coming back, as his next assignment, a remake of George Romero's The Crazies, shows.

There is no singular vision in Anderson's horror films, as there is in the work of Cronenberg, for example. There is no exuberant celebration of style, as there is in Argento's or DePalma's best works. Nor does there seem to be any political agenda, as there is in Romero's films. But despite the relative failure of Session 9 and The Machinist, I think there is something in Anderson, unformed and embryonic, waiting to burst forth, if only he can let go. He is a late talent, a grower not a shower. I don't think it will be seen in The Crazies, but I'm still waiting.
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Astounding film with tension , blood , shocks and violence
ma-cortes16 November 2006
A factory worker called Trevor (Christian Bale) fatigued of insomnia receives estrange and indecipherable post-it notes that seem a bizarre riddle and going on odds events are happening . He hasn't slept for one year and suffers hallucinations , risking lives of industrial co-operators (Michael Ironside), causing injuries and amputations . Psychopathic , haunting visions by Trevor and his madness embroils two women , a prostitute (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and a mother (Aitana Sanchez Gijon) , increasingly , besides , with a co-worker (John Sharian) who nobody have ever seen . He tries to resolve which believes to be a scheme against him and a mysterious rout 666 leads to the final enigma .

The film contains mystery , violence , suspense in dark atmosphere with imposing tension and intrigue . The thin (exclusively for the film) Christian Bale makes a top-notch performance similarly to supporting cast who is frankly good . The producers of the film claim that Christian Bale dropped from about 173 pounds in weight down to about 110 pounds in weight to make this film and he regained it for Batman . Bale plays magnificently psycho and gloomy characters (as in Shaft , American psycho and even Batman) . The film was well shot in Catalunia (Spain) though to be just like whatever American city . Xavi Gimenez cinematography is excellent , creating a frightening and scary atmosphere , he's expert on sombre photography (Fragile, Intact, Nameless) . Mesmerizing and intriguing music by Roque Baños (Crimen Ferfecto , 88 bullets). The motion picture was nicely directed by Brad Anderson (Session 9) , although with little movement and brief action. Rating : Good and above average , it's one the highest earning suspense picture of the last years.
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What was the point of making this movie?
pandabat1 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I'll start with the positive. The movie looks good with the faded color lending weight to our protagonist's jaded view of the world. The performances were also applaudable.

However, what was the point of making this movie? (Here comes the spoiler, if you can even call it that!!) From the moment where Ivan first disappears from view and is not recognised by co-workers in the factory, I started to say to myself "Please, not another alter-ego/split-personality story. Fight Club's done this already and done it rather well!" Alas, my fears were eventually realised but I remained optimistic, hopeful that maybe something imaginative might be done after the denouement. Once again I was disappointed.

This is a simplistic, boring story. It's a pity, as it's the best acting that I've seen Christian Bale do and the films palette is strangely appealing but if you want my advice, keep your money for something else!
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This film was a let down.
thuhchicken20 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I walked into this film having been enticed by the interesting trailers. The film had an interesting premise, and the fact that the lead actor lost so much weight for the role must have said something about the significance of the film. Halfway through the film, however, all my hopes were dashed. I realized that I was entirely apathetic to the characters and the chiche plot. The film tried to be interesting, dynamic and unpredictable but failed in every way. It was entirely predictable and uninteresting. Cinematographically, the film was beautiful, but that's about the only thing it had going for it. That, and good acting from veteran actors. The script, which attempted to be thrilling, failed to evoke any emotion. I don't remember the last time I was so annoyed by a film. Me, and everyone I was with, felt as if we had wasted two hours of our life on a meaningless piece of work.
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Great thriller mystery
scoup4 April 2012
The Machinist is an instant classic.

A riveting descent into madness with Christian Bale bringing his A game. Bale wastes himself away to 120 lbs of a haunting and creepy shell of a man both visually disturbing and compelling. The story ambles along laden with foreshadowing and clues keeping the viewer involved in the mystery.

Not much needs to be said except "Brilliant." Well constructed and nuanced atmospheric film that will be viewed 50 years from now and not lose anything; maybe only to be elevated as an example of filmmaking at its best.

It's easy to draw a parallel to Hitchcock; but maybe it is closer to the truth that The Machinist is a movie that he would have evolved to make if he had lived longer. Hitchcock would have been fascinated by Bale and his extreme dedication to his craft. My imagination takes me away to a place where Hitchcock has just finished watching The Machinist and feels just a small pang of envy...followed by an immediate call to Bale's agent for casting in his next movie. If wishes were horses...
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"You lost it, man"
Newsense21 February 2009
I recently was looking up films that Christian Bale starred in when I bumped into this gem. I never heard anything about this film but after watching it I say it deserves the praise that it gets on here and then some.

Trevor Reznik is a factory worker whose life goes completely awry after he meets a mysterious stranger named Ivan(John Sharian) that claims to work in the same factory. Things get worse for Trevor as one his co-workers loses an arm(Miller played by Micheal Ironside) and he is questioned about the incident. Trevor believes he is going insane and constantly visits a hooker and a airport restaurant waitress in attempts to regain his sanity. He hasn't been sleeping well and things get more complicated for him once Ivan is introduced into his life.

Christian Bale gives one hell of a performance as the tortured soul Trevor Reznik. Jennifer Jason Leigh as well as Michael Ironside turn in some good performances. Christian Bale looks ghastly and sickly but his point of shedding 63 pounds to play this role was well made. I also like the score for this movie. Its no overbearing and grating: Its haunting and eerie and complements the overall tone to this intriguing and well-written mystery. So if you are in the mood for a great psychological thriller you couldn't go wrong with The Machinist.
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Amazing movie in the tone of Dostoevsky
jmeyer4931 July 2008
This movie is as complex as any I have seen recently. The main character reminds me of the underground man from Dostoevsky's "Notes From Underground." The internal tormoil and psychological struggle on top of the characters physical limitations is very rewarding. As a recovering drug addict I completely relate to to Christian Bale's performance of a man haunted by himself. Excellent movie for those that really appreciate the art of filmaking. This is probably my favorite movie at the moment, along with a Clockwork Orange. Movies today that are deemed masterpieces seem to be very marginal in comparison with a movie like this. Be warned though, if you are looking for an aesticially pleasing movie to watch with your significant other, this is not it.
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Finally another great film in this p***-poor movie decade.
fedor827 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
First thing's first: I think Christian Bale is insane. To risk one's health – and life - for a mere movie is something I don't understand at all – even if it's a great movie such as this. Perhaps he is "The Masochinist". It is absolutely amazing to see how much weight he'd lost for this role; I guess he must have lost around half of the initial weight. And like a true "method" actor he must have hung out with fashion models to learn the tricks of the trade. It is also quite possible the director went through several actors before finally finding one who was willing to do this to himself. Fortunately he ended up with Bale, because I have to say that he has never been this good. I also have to mention here how key it was for the director to cast the right person for the role of Bale's conscience. (I wouldn't be surprised if he worked as a Brando impersonator.)

The movie is one of the very best – made in this decade – that I've seen. The theme of reality has been explored quite well in a half dozen films that came out around the turn of the millennium, and this is another great addition. The photography is superb (creating a unique look, so essential to a movie of this nature), the soundtrack is refreshingly traditional, i.e. reminding of 50s/60s thrillers, the entire cast is good, the premise is original, the dialogue convincing, and the conclusion is not a let-down. I loved the way Anderson decided to have all the dialogue put through a special effect, giving the entire movie an even stranger, unique feel than it already would have had.

Essential viewing, needless to say.
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Listen, it could have worked.
randomtask30004 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
So, I think it's well established that this film is a failure of the "is it real?"" plot. People here are quick to cite the fact that this genre's recent popularity may have jaded them and made them aware of what was going to happen.

But the problem is not the formula, the problem is the execution. Many reviewers have mentioned "Fight Club" and "Memento" or "Beautiful Mind" as examples of successes in this storyline. But the crucial difference between these films and The Machinist is that, in the more successful films, the events which are later to be explained as madness are at least remotely believable.

In "Fight Club", we believe in the existence of Tyler Durden because he actually interacts with more people than just the main character. In "The Machinist", Ivan never interacts with anyone other than Trevor.

Later, when the foreman told Trevor that there was no such person as Ivan, I didn't feel any surprise. Instead I felt insulted. "Did they expect to catch me off guard with that? Of course he's not real!", I thought to myself. The film does nothing to lend any believability to Ivan's existence.

In the end, the film gives away the supposed twist with such obviousness, the only way they could possibly have surprised the audience would have been to reveal, at the end, that Trevor was in fact correct, that his boss, co-workers, escort, girlfriend, and Ivan were all actually conspiring against him.
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