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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 Chris Wilson

"A thriller that trims the fat from its thrills… and its lead actor."
4 stars

I won’t lie to you. On paper, The Machinist sounds about as exciting as watching a two hour quilting lesson. There are no explosions or gunfights. It doesn’t have political conspiracies or even kinky revenge / murder / sex triangles. What the film does have is a plot that will jerk its audience around and around in the cleverest of ways. And no quilts.

The opening shot is haunting. A skeleton of a man is dealing with what appears to be a dead body. The man walks over to the window and suddenly it becomes apparent: this is what Christian Bale looks like at 120 pounds. This is no computer gimmickry (a trend that thankfully continues throughout most of the film); the man lost over 60 pounds to inhabit his role.

Bale plays Trevor Reznik (whose name sounds oddly like the musician behind Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor), a man who claims he hasn’t slept in over a year. Obviously he hasn’t been eating very well either. Trevor works as a machine operator in a foreboding factory somewhere in Los Angeles. When he’s not at work, Trevor spends his time bleaching his bathroom floor or frequenting his favorite prostitute (Jennifer Jason Leigh). As if this weren’t a bleak enough existence, Trevor causes an accident at his job and begins to receive threatening notes in his apartment. Even worse, he begins to see a man who others claim doesn’t exist, a man who may help him uncover some terrible lie about what’s going on around him. Trevor struggles to uncover what’s real and what’s hallucination as his life begins to spiral downward.

The Machinist could best be described as a noir thriller. The plot is full of intrigue, the lighting and shadows are made as atmospheric as possible, there’s the kind-hearted hooker (an annoying Hollywood trope that’s getting harder and harder to forgive). Comparisons to Memento are fair but instead of playing with time to deceive the audience, director Brad Anderson and first-time screenwriter Scott Kosar play with reality. While not as shocking or fresh as Memento, The Machinist has better pacing and really draws the audience into the world of a man unsure of his sanity.

For any thriller, the essential component is a conclusion, a piece of the puzzle many seem to tack on at the end. But The Machinist manages to tie everything together, something I became increasingly worried about as the film kept throwing out surprise after surprise. The beginning is intentionally confusing, which is the only jump in time that isn’t clear. Regardless, the film leaves plenty of room for interpretation (with its trillion Dostoevsky references for starters). Who represents what, what kind of reality was this and other fun philosophical stuff. Sigmund Freud bubble pipe not included.

While not for the summer blockbuster crowd, The Machinist makes a great alternative to the explosions. It’s a well crafted thriller through and through, and it’ll spin you around without the annoying whiplash of some other movies. There are no lies, just deception. And a man who needs to eat a few bowls of ice cream.

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originally posted: 06/27/05 09:44:52
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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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