THUMBS UP FILM REVIEW RATING! (RATING: 4 OUT OF 5)
It has become a trend among the would-be autures of Indie film that an unconventional structure makes a good unconventional film. Director Brad Anderson takes his own shot at the off-beat story wrapped in a non-linear narrative, resulting in The Machinist: a tale that may not be the greatest of films, but possesses enough interesting characterizations and plot twists to succeed as a thriller above the norm.
Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale) is a machinist who hasn’t slept a single night in over a year, for an as yet unknown reason. The film opens with Reznik disposing of a body wrapped in a carpet roll near a river side, then instantly turns back in time to display the events leading up to this scene. On the way, Reznik’s character suffers some strange experiences and his lack of rest ultimately starts to take its toll on his perception. He begins a journey to discover who is involved in these strange events and why.
Renowned character actor Christian Bale is definitely a presence to be felt in The Machinist, portraying the character of Reznik with subtlety and amazing physicality. According to reports, Bale shed over 63 pounds to obtain the gaunt look the role demanded. The visual impact is utterly amazing; we watch Bale’s skeletal Reznik meander his way through this twisted tale looking like a lost soul in the land of the near-dead. Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character Stevie comments at one point “If you were any thinner, you wouldn’t exist.” Such dialogue is indicative of the style of this film, as the audience is left wondering at times what really exists and what is illusion. There is a fine sense of mood in Machinist and I felt the script did an admirable job not giving too much away.
Although the main plot twist of The Machinist wasn’t exactly a surprise, there is fortunately more to come. The ending in particular takes a second twist in a direction that remains in theme, yet despite the foreshadowing we don’t suspect it’s coming. This really salvages the film from becoming just another predictable movie and gives us a new insight into the character of Reznik. When everything falls into place, the result is a satisfying, if not totally original, psychological thriller with Bale giving yet another outstanding performance.
What The Machinist lacks in originality, it makes up with an above average script and a memorable performance from lead Christian Bale.