Worth A Look: 34.31%
Pretty Bad: 2.94%
Total Crap: 0.98%
8 reviews, 54 user ratings
by Scott Weinberg
Creepy character study; post-modern grunge-noir; gothic psyschological mystery; and, heck, let's call it Industrial Thriller just to sound cool. Brad Anderson's 'The Machinist' is all of these and pretty damn crafty to boot.First off...Wow.
"Nice to see a flick like this that actually makes SENSE in the end!"
You simply will not believe the shape of Christian Bale in this movie. Film after film, Bale proves himself a 'no bullshit' actor in the vein of Johnny Depp or Sean Penn. From Velvet Goldmine to American Psycho to even the sillier stuff (a la Reign of Fire or Equilibrium), Christian Bale has proven himself to be a fierce and commanding performer...plus he's the new Batman! Good for him!
But some time between now and the moment Bale dons the black cowl, you'll probably get a chance to see his work in The Machinist. And to borrow a phrase from everyone's favorite Jedi Muppet: Blown away you will be.
Some may choose to look at Bale's amazingly emaciated frame and dismiss his performance as the sort of 'gimmick acting' that inevitably comes with a big fake nose or several unexpected collagen injections. But once the shock of Bale's sunken eye sockets and dangerously frail frame wears off, the guy just rivets your attention as if he's peeling an apple. This guy, for better or for worse, is gonna win Oscars some day. Bank on that.
Bale plays Trevor Reznik, a quiet and solitary young man; one who looks like he just escaped from a concentration camp and claims to have gone the past year without sleep. One look at the guy and you believe him. Reznik works at a dank machine shop, quietly mingling with his co-workers before returning home to...well, nothing.
One day Reznik accidentally causes a horrific accident, thus reigniting a descent into a sort of madness that's half-nightmare, half-mystery, and all sorts of fascinating. Reznik's perpetually dreamline existence is populated by a collage of colorful characters. There's the skanky/sexy hooker who may just have a thing for our tortured protagonist, a suddenly mutilated yet still amiable co-worker, and a sweet-natured cafe waitress who may be wandering into a truly disfunctional relationship.
These folks are played, respectively, by Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Ironside and Aitana Sánchez-Gijón. Each of the actors are asked to match up with Bale's force-of-nature performance, and each one deliver rock-solid work with admirable consistency. Leigh has long been one of our best unsung actors, Ironside continues to prove that he can do a whole lot more than the "tough & gruff" roles, and Sanchez? Don't know a whole lot about this lady, but she's equal parts beauty and talent. So consider me a new fan.
The Machinist is, to borrow a hackneyed yet appropriate phrase, a true mindtrip. It's consistently challenging and grimly wrought; the pieces, when they finally do connect after all is said and done, click together firmly and satisfyingly; a clear illustration of the precision and craftsmanship in Scott Kosar's screenplay. The movie is deliberately paced without ever becoming slow or boring; it's vague enough to keep you intrigued with becoming so abstract that you tune right out; and The Machinist manages to forge something fresh and unique while clearly showcasing some affection for the film noirs and the twilight zones that came before.
* Note to fans of Hitchcock in general and Bernard Herrmann in particular: you're either gove to LOVE Roque Banos' Machinist score...or you're going to HATE it. Personally I thought it was fantastic.It's not a "crowd-pleaser" and it's not gonna overpower the multiplexes by storm, but with 'The Machinist', Anderson, Kosar and Bale have crafted one deep, dark and deliciously twisted movie that should have the 'underground' movie freaks buzzing quite happily indeed.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8511&reviewer=128
originally posted: 02/03/04 16:54:20
|OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Chicago Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Mill Valley Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Mill Valley Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Leeds Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Leeds Film Festival series, click here.