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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 Brian McKay

"Brad Anderson serves up another Session of Mindfuckery"
5 stars

After SESSION 9, I became a fan of Brad Anderson - a filmmaker who, up to that point, had been mostly known for quirky but clever films that could be loosely grouped into the "Romantic Comedy" genre (HAPPY ACCIDENTS, NEXT STOP WONDERLAND), except that they were far better than about 98 percent of the crappy and formulaic rom-coms that come out of Hollywood. In fact, one of the reasons Anderson wanted to do a film like SESSION 9 was because he didn't want to be labeled as a romantic comedy director. Ever since, fans have been eagerly awaiting his return to the horror/suspense genre, and it has arrive in the form of THE MACHINIST

Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale - who lost so much weight for this film that he made Lindsay Lohan look like Sally Struthers) is a bit fucked up. He grows increasingly emaciated no matter how much he eats, and he can't sleep. In fact, as he confides to his steady hooker Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh), he hasn't slept in nearly a year. On top of that, he wonders if he's beginning to lose his mind, because somebody has been leaving creepy little notes on his refrigerator, and people at the machine shop where he works are insisting that the new guy named Ivan (John Sharian), whom Reznick has spoken to more than once, doesn't exist.

But when a co-worker named Miller (Michael Ironside) loses his arm in an accident, an accident caused by Reznik while he is distracted by Ivan, Reznik's feelings of guilt turn into paranoia - especially when a machine he is working on the following week somehow turns on with his arm still inside.

Meanwhile, Reznick befriends a waitress named Maria (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón) at the all-night coffee shop he frequents after work. But as he gets closer to Maria and her young son, Nicholas (Matthew Romero), he begins to have more strange and unsettling encounters with Ivan, and finds more clues in his apartment in the form of games of Hangman left on Post-it notes.

THE MACHINIST, though bearing some superficial similarities to films like JACOB'S LADDER, is a clever and well-written film rife with symbolism (a scene where Reznik takes Nicholas on an amusement park spookhouse ride that turns nasty is a brilliant highlight). Bale plays the role to the hilt, and his astonishing weight loss is ample evidence that this is a man fully dedicated to his craft. Reznick is a likeable character, but unsettling at the same time, his expression haunted by some great weight on his shoulders. Fans of BATMAN BEGINS will note that he went from his normal build to a human skeleton, and then right back up to his fighting weight, in a matter of weeks - and the difference is truly astonishing. And while much of the references are so subtle only highly literary types may catch them all (a thorough familiarity with the works of Dostoyevsky is not required, but it certainly wouldn't hurt), there are ample clues scattered throughout THE MACHINIST, and their signifigance becomes crystal clear by the time the end credits roll. It's the kind of film that begs repeat viewings, in order to decipher all of the hints that you may have missed.

Although Brad Anderson's work in general has been exceptional, it seems he may have a true niche for creating moody and psychological horror. His use of lighting, editing, sound design, and score hit just the right nerve endings, creating a film that keeps turning over in your mental gears for days afterward.

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originally posted: 06/20/05 14:20:05
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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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