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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 34.31%
Average: 7.84%
Pretty Bad: 2.94%
Total Crap: 0.98%

8 reviews, 54 user ratings

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Machinist, The
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by Scott Weinberg

"Nice to see a flick like this that actually makes SENSE in the end!"
5 stars

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.

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 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.

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originally posted: 02/03/04 16:54:20
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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.

User Comments

2/20/12 posttoastee Bale gives an impressive performance. Good stuff. 4 stars
12/04/08 Crabes Dostoïevsky would have been so proud of this powerful film ! 5 stars
9/30/08 L. Gary Captivating moroseness with a pedestrian ending. Bale shined througout. 4 stars
8/28/08 Alex Thorne A remarkable portrayal of the fragility of human sanity.Should have been oscar nominated 5 stars
5/02/07 Tracey Chambers anything with christian bale is worth a look 4 stars
4/14/07 cindy this is one good fucking movie. I can't believe how much weight he lost for this movie 5 stars
12/29/06 David Pollastrini boring, dull, etc. 2 stars
12/16/06 Minotaur AWESOME! I havent been able to get it out of my head for a week. 5 stars
9/24/06 teofisto great film, lost a lot of weight... true actor 4 stars
9/15/06 Beth Plaxco I can't believe the physical changes to make "the Machinist" after watcing "American "psych 5 stars
8/26/06 james burke Even if you see it coming it's still a fascinating film 5 stars
5/09/06 andy outstanding performances....thmbs up for bale..excellent progression of a wicked tale 4 stars
2/15/06 Carlos Idelone Dream-like like the Carnival of Souls 4 stars
1/09/06 Frenzy Just great 5 stars
12/03/05 sex trade worker christian bale is gorgeous 5 stars
11/20/05 Bestit 'Just an incredible film, no matter how you look at of the best in years. 5 stars
10/12/05 eddiejohns I almost didn't recognize Mr. Bale. He's wonderful and the movie is fantastic! 5 stars
9/30/05 ShabbaRanks Hands down the best film of the year! Amazing!!! 5 stars
9/30/05 Lori Excellent, gripping, unnerving, totally had me in its spell 5 stars
9/16/05 del malliaros this movie is fucking awesome and at the end christian bale is gorgeous 5 stars
9/06/05 Dirk I am a machinist anything about this trade would have to a horror 5 stars
8/31/05 Badhobbit Reznik's experiences are a nightmare come to life. Spellbinding! 5 stars
8/01/05 TheOthersFan AAAAAAAAAAAAUGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! CHRISTIAN BALE WHAT DID YOU DO TO YOURSELF?!?!!!!!!?! 2 stars
7/31/05 KOR Indrid: Don't think they were going for the "David Lynch thing." Try Hitchcock or Kafka. 5 stars
7/22/05 Indrid Cold Very well done, but somehow doesn't quite pull off the David Lynch thing. 4 stars
7/19/05 Kankasaur It's refreshing to see a film that impresses both the art-house and artless. 5 stars
7/12/05 Frenzy Great story, great acting 5 stars
7/12/05 paige i dont understand the symbolism everyone is taking about......they speak about symbolism??? 5 stars
7/11/05 Taylor Fladgate Creepy creepy creepy...very good, would have been good except for the untied ending 4 stars
7/11/05 Brian Feiler Great mystery/suspensefull thriller. Bale almost appears to be dissapearing before our eyes 5 stars
7/05/05 Kirsten way overrated gimmicky crapola 2 stars
6/29/05 Phil M. Aficionado Haunting/daunting story, great casting/acting/directing -- just a little "much" in places. 4 stars
6/26/05 malcolm hypnotizing and intense. who woulda thunk skinny-ass Bale could make a great batman? 4 stars
6/21/05 Jim Dennen intense study of Christian Bales' character from a year with no sleep. Great casting! 5 stars
6/21/05 David Hollands A haunting mind-bender. Bale is fantastic. Anderson's direction is incredible. 5 stars
6/15/05 Phil Hunt Interesting...but entertaining 4 stars
6/06/05 John Bale Not since Polanski's REPULSION such a devasting essay into a disturbed mind 5 stars
6/04/05 ANNA unsettling, disturbing, tragic, thought provoking, one of best films i have ever seen 5 stars
6/04/05 Hack-SAW Not too bad... But it reminded me of "Session 9", "The Salton Sea" & "Fight Club"!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
5/12/05 MCKROB Creepy.. Christian Bale is fantastic... 5 stars
4/20/05 Caiphn Dark, sometimes hard to watch, outcome not as obvious as some of the reviews say. 4 stars
2/17/05 ALDO Only watch it if you liked "Angel eyes" and "Fight club"...Otherwise stay away 3 stars
1/30/05 Tiffany A must see performance by Christian Bale 5 stars
1/21/05 Uncle Phucker Pretty bad ass movie. Not totally original but brilliant looking and fine acted by cast. 4 stars
12/14/04 Lord Durvok 2 Anderson pwns! But this one was kind of... eh. 4 stars
12/07/04 pin Crime and Punishment adaptation - given a nod, no credit 4 stars
11/03/04 f. fendt confession: good for the soul, good for the body 5 stars
10/26/04 Klaus Great movie. Very dark. Definitely one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. 5 stars
10/26/04 P.J. Dunlevy Christian Bale - wonderful, physical performance. 4 stars
10/22/04 natasha Readers' Digest condensed version of Dostoevsky meets Fight Club 3 stars
7/02/04 jeffrey Weird!!! Maybe I'll like it more the 2nd time. A little slow to watch 4 stars
2/20/04 josh christian bale is god. 5 stars
2/09/04 Jake Absolutely wonderful, I am a big fan of Session 9 and this film equals that. 5 stars
2/08/04 CC Crappy 1 stars
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  22-Oct-2004 (R)
  DVD: 07-Jun-2005



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