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
An urban nightmare with an incredible performance by Christian Bale
THE MACHINIST (Brad Anderson - Spain 2004).
Christian Bale is Trevor Reznik, a machinist in an anonymous factory somewhere in America. He is obviously scarred by some past incident but what is it? He finds mysterious notes on his refrigerator, saying 'who are you?' He sees colleagues that don't exist. He seems to have lost it completely.
A Spanish production, but with Brad Anderson at the helm as director and an almost exclusively American cast, this is basically an American film. I must admit, I kept shelving this one, due to reasons I cannot really recall now I've finally watched it, but it probably had something to do with Christian Bale's insane weight loss and all the surrounding publicity. I assumed the film was all about Bale's loss of weight and not much more. A method boy in a film solely hyped for an actor's dedication to play the part, but the film blew me away, as simple as that. Christian Bale gives a solo turn here almost unseen before. No matter how many pounds he lost, it's a remarkable performance.
Director Brad Anderson succeeds brilliantly in conceiving an atmosphere that is so compelling, as one other user on the IMDb stated, 'You just HAVE to know what the hell is going on here.' I think that's the key factor in what makes this film so incredibly compelling. The whole setting is an anonymous industrial town somewhere in the US, that could be Pennsylvania, Michigan or upstate New York (actually, it was shot near Barcelona), but it doesn't really matter where the story is located. It's the atmosphere of estrangement that does it. And Christian Bale gives such an intense performance you really want to know his cause and background. Where on earth does he come from? We know he works in a greasy factory, but why is he skin-over-bone? Why hasn't he slept in over a year? Brad Anderson creates an atmosphere so broody and sleazy, it's like a netherworld, an urban nightmare. In a certain way it reminded me of the strange urban landscape in "Eraserhead" by David Lynch.
Camera Obscura --- 9/10
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