The Machinist

Someone said that the advertising for this film (classic “like X meets y” stuff) ruined the twist at the end. So, I’m not going to make any mention of either comparitor or spoil it for you. All I will say is, I don’t think so. To be honest, I’d suspect the fact that there was no real mystery as to what was going on actually stopped me from coming out the film feeling hoodwinked by the trite bundle of an ending.

Trevor Reznik, the Machinist of the title is a man that is losing the plot. Emaciated and suffering from insomnia for over a year, he seems to be drawing inward rejecting the former friendship of his workmates for spending nights with prostitute Stevie or having endless pie and coffee in local airport. After causing a man to lose his arm in the shop, Reznik, wracked with guilt, begins to descend into paranoia.

Central to the film is yet another staggering performance by Christian Bale – who must fast be becoming the best actor of his generation – as Reznik. Much has been made of the amount of weight Bale lost for this part, and no wonder. I know that the part requires a skinny bloke but that just looks ill. I seriously did find my mind wandering to concern for his wellbeing a few times through the film. There’s a wonderful touch of innocence to his performance that demands sympathy – despite the ultimately neurotic darkness you can tell is at his heart.

Sterling support comes from Jennifer Jason Leigh turning in her best peroxide Gloria Graham tart-with-heart turn. Is the Grahame thing just me? C’mon you must be able to see it, and it’s not just the voice. Someone else that can act the socks off most of her contemporaries. Very much underused, IMO.

Despite the too tidy ending director Brad Anderson pulls off a wonderful sense of genuine suspense throughout the film. Unlike the two films not mentioned above, he manages to keep you on the edge of your seat throughout with a serious sense of dread and foreboding that cleverly mirrors Reznik’s decline.

Dark, moody, well made, bloody well acted (and the ending is not that bad). More than most or the moronic offerings out there are giving you these days.


Written by Tony Kiernan

30 March 2005 at 3:51 pm

Posted in Film

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