Trevor Reznik is a machinist in a factory. An extreme case of insomnia has led to him not sleeping in a year, and his body withering away to almost nothing. He has an obsessive compulsion to write himself reminder notes and keep track of his dwindling weight, both scribbled on yellow stickies in his apartment. The only person he lets into his life in an emotional sense is Stevie, a prostitute, although he has an infatuation with Maria, a single mother waitress working in an airport diner. His co-workers don't associate with and mistrust him because of not knowing what is going on in his life that has led to his emaciated physical appearance. A workplace incident further alienates him with his coworkers, and in conjunction with some unfamiliar pieces of paper he finds in his apartment, Trevor believes that someone or some people - probably one or some of his coworkers - are out to get him, using a phantom employee named Ivan as their front. As Trevor goes on a search for evidence as to... Written by
There are many good things about The Machinist that are well deserving of praise. The very atmospheric nature of the film is supported very strongly by excellent performances all around. Christian Bale takes things to the extreme in his embodiment of his character. It is hard to take seeing him in his near-starvation body mass, which elevates the tension of this piece even further. The storyline leaves a little to be desired. While it creates its mood excellently, it does tend to plod along a little too much.
One thing that does stand out is how reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock this film plays. Almost everything about the film screams Hitchcock, from the editing of certain scenes (the driving sequences are very much in the style of Psycho) to the Bernard Herrmann-esquire score (lots of bass clarinet), the lack of fully-exploring/revealing some of the creepier points of the film (what is dripping from the fridge?), and the washed out, grainy photography. If you want to see what a film would look like if Hitchcock were alive to film it today, this is the closest thing you could probably come across. And if that was part of Brad Anderson's intention in directing this, I have to commend him on the execution because it is uncanny.
Overall, I would recommend this film, but not to casual movie-goers. This is very much a movie-phile experience for those who appreciate character development and cinematography as much as plot points and a storyline that can be defined and followed from one action to the next. In that way it is closer to films like Magnolia or the Others, where the apex is the characters. If you are looking for a typical popcorn Hollywood thriller, this is not what you are looking for.
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