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A strong mood piece, but not for everyone
Surecure29 October 2004
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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Mattias Petersson21 November 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this film at the Stockholm International Film Festival in November 2004. In the audience was director Brad Anderson, and i think he very much appreciated how the film was received by the rest of the audience. And this film was well worth the applause.

This film is about a man (Christian Bale) working in a heavy industry. He suffers from insomnia and hasn't slept for a year. This condition is causing him to lose weight, and his perception of reality to become twisted. Soon he doesn't know what's real or not.

I won't elaborate any more on the plot since it could really spoil the film for you. There are some twists and turns along the way that might not be all that obvious and you should be able to enjoy them without being told too much. What i can say though is that the story is in no way revolutionary. A couple of films have been made in the same vein as this one, the most famous perhaps being Memento and Fight Club. And "The Machinist" shares elements from both these films but still, i think, manages to create an identity of it's own.

But aside from the story, Christian Bale really steals the show. Having seen him in his previous films it's hard to be prepared for what he looks like here. For this film he has turned himself into a walking skeleton, a run-down shadow of a man. And his performance is, throughout the movie, mesmerizing. I have ever since American Psycho been fully convinced of Bale's talents as an actor, and this further proves his talent and commitment. The rest of the cast also do a good job, strengthening the overall strange mood of the film.

Although i thoroughly enjoyed this film i understand it's not for everyone. This is not the least proved by the fact that Brad Anderson (as he stated in the interview after the screening) could not get funding for it in America. Instead he had to go to Spain to make the film the way he wanted to. And i'm not surprised, this is not your standard Hollywood fare. But for those of us who enjoy films that go beyond the will to suit everyone (and make loads of money) this is a rewarding experience. I rate it 7/10.
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A grower
Superunknovvn17 April 2005
It's a common rule that people subconsciously decide within the first ten minutes whether they like a movie or not. It didn't even take me that long to know that I would be intrigued by "The Machinist".

The set up is perfect. It's adorable how the movie constantly establishes new plot points without ever getting tedious. As the story goes on it gets hard to believe that the ending will be able to explain everything and you start pondering that there can only be one possible conclusion for all the weird events. It may be disappointing at first to learn that your predictions are probably dead-on and you might go: "Not that old twist again." The beautiful thing, however, is that there's an explanation to the twist that really adds a lot to the concept. Much later, when you've already left the theater and you rethink the whole thing, you'll find that the script is much cleverer than you had thought at first. To me the biggest achievement of the movie in retrospective is, that it's never creepy just for the sake of freaking the audience out (and hell, the carnival-sequence is so friggin creepy and well made, it's delightful). Every scene has its purpose and that is not often the case in horror and mystery movies.

Although the whole cast did a fine job, Christian Bale's terrific performance must be mentioned. Usually I'm annoyed by stories about actors losing or gaining weight in preparation for a role, because mostly it's uncalled for anyway and not even worth a mention. What Bale did to prepare for "The Machinist", however, is nothing short of heroic. He lost 60 pounds and looks so unhealthy throughout the whole movie that it's hard to believe he turned into himself again after the director yelled "cut!".

I can recommend "The Machinist" to anybody who's looking for a movie that keeps you intrigued longer than just during its running time. If after 10 minutes you like the movie, after days you'll find yourself still obsessed with it. I love it, when a movie does that to me!
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An urban nightmare with an incredible performance by Christian Bale
Camera Obscura13 November 2006
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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A Dark and Spooky Psychological Thriller
noralee22 November 2004
"The Machinist" demonstrates that "Session 9" wasn't the only creepy thriller that Brad Anderson could do.

While M. Night Shyamalan and commercial fare like "The Grudge" get the attention and the big bucks, Anderson is quietly mastering disturbing, psychologically scary shockers. While the previous movie took advantage of our imaginations leaping around a spooky environment, "The Machinist" makes our discomfort palpably visual in Christian Bale's painful to look at body, as his character is ravaged by insomnia and loss of appetite; by the end of the movie it's shocking to see his normally handsome face.

But all the focus on his astounding weight loss takes away from the other elements in the almost black and white film that make it a scare fest. The movie establishes "The Twilight Zone" mood immediately with the soundtrack, which includes generous use of the theremin, as Hitchcock did in "Psycho." The production design is excellent at supporting the mood.

The suspense builds and is sustained through to the satisfying conclusion as you genuinely get involved in Bale's efforts to solve the increasingly mysterious happenings around him. Even though you are pretty sure he could be hallucinating, you are intrigued to figure out the trigger.

Despite looking like a caricature of a Holocaust victim, Bale creates a full character, from the jocular male camaraderie of the factory where he doesn't quite seem to fit in to responding one beat off to the warmth of the two women in his life, a waitress and a prostitute with the an open heart of gold (played, as usual by Jennifer Jason Leigh, but effectively languid).
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Dostoyevsky and The Machinist
Jake Murray25 March 2005
I really enjoyed this film. It reminded me of 21 Grams, Jacob's Ladder and Memento. Perhaps the finale left a few questions unanswered or felt a little anti-climactic but an amazing performance by Christian Bale. Haunted, brave, vulnerable, murderous but also very moving. A film which stays with you.

Now, here's an eggheaded thing, but did anyone notice the constant stream of Dostoyevsky references in the movie? Not only did Resnick (remind anyone of Raskolnikov?) put down a copy of Dostoyevsky's The Idiot at one point but the whole movie owed a lot to Notes From The Underground, Crime And Punishment and The Double. Did anyone spot the sign in the Ghost Train sequence which read Crime And Punishment? Or that Sharian's character is called Ivan (cf The Brothers Karamazov - especially the chapter Ivan's Dream)? Jennifer Jason Leigh's character is very familiar from Dostoyevsky, as was the saintly Maria.

Its a cracking film and none of these references are indispensable to enjoying it but I thought I would point it out.
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'Thinner' meets 'Memento' by way of 'Angel Heart' a la Hitchcock
george.schmidt25 October 2004
THE MACHINST (2004) ***1/2 Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, John Sharian, Michael Ironside, Reg E. Cathey.

'Thinner' meets 'Memento' by way of 'Angel Heart' a la Hitchcock

There are a few select actors who have gained or shed weight to make a true transformation on screen but the one that will probably remain imprinted for years to come is the truly shocking display by Christian Bale who lost a whopping 63 lbs. to a skeletal shell of 120 for his portrayal of dank creepy perfection.

Bale stars as the afflicted Trevor Reznik, a shell of a man who works in a machine factory and apparently is nursing some horrible demon that has led to his astonishing appearance, ghostly pallor and paranoia soaked delusions that call to question his amazing confession: How can a man not sleep for an entire year and waste away to a shadow of his being and keep his sanity?

The answer isn't so transparent as Reznik becomes submerged in some sort of dreamscape nightmare of conspiracy theories and the innate distrust of his own mind playing tricks on him one night when he encounters the perpetually grinning Ivan (Sharian sporting the sharkiest Cheshire Cat smile in recent film memory) an apparently new shift employee who distracts him to the point of a horrific accident that causes his employer and co-worker to mistrust him and suspect his deteriorating looks as something a tad more sinister.

Reznik's only solace is in literally a mother-whore relationship he shares with a well-meaning lovely waitress (Sanchez-Gizon) at the airport diner he frequents as much as the hooker he lies with to express his thoughts and odd happenings (Leigh in her umpteenth whore role that must have filled her quota by now).

After the accident Reznik is plagued with a series of Post-Its sporting a game of hangman that leads to a few clues to his rationale and ultimately to his fate of 'Who Am I?'

Directed by Anderson who helmed the criminally underrated spooky horror flick 'Session 9' a few years back returns to a dark story of a man clearly unraveling and destroying himself in the process that echoes Stephen King's 'Thinner' by way of the identity crises of 'Memento' and the psychological thriller 'Angel Heart' yet invokes a sharply executed script by Scott Kosar (who penned the worthy remake of 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' last year) that recalls David Fincher meets David Lynch paroxysms of fate and the build up to a discovery that is all too recognizable to the thriller genre in recent years of identity masked as phobic reality with its latter day Hitchcock everyman skewed nicely. Kudos to cinematographers Xavi Gimenez and Charlie Jiminez for its bleak, green/grey drudgery and the Herrmannesque score by Roque Banos mixes perfectly to the dread at hand displays.

Bale went above and beyond the call of duty in his somewhat controversial display of Holocaust invoking demeanor yet it works shockingly well as it delves into the troubled soul of a man who is wasting away not only as a metaphor but as a penance for some hell to pay.
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A Dark and Somber Maze of Altered Reality
gradyharp8 June 2005
THE MACHINIST is a mesmerizing film, a journey through the interstices of a mind deprived of sleep, of nourishment, and a mind that struggles to untangle the chaos of a past of guilt and terror. And the journey is terrifying.

When the film opens we meet Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale) or at least the emaciated, tortured remains of a man who hasn't slept for a year. We don't know why this worker in a machine factory is in such condition: the story unwinds slowly so that by the end we accompany Reznik in his shock to his moment of discovery. It is the getting there that is the tough beauty of this amazingly rich film as written by Scott Kosar and directed by Brad Anderson.

The setting is always dark as though the state of mind is a nightmare. Reznik's meager existence is challenged when he is involved in an industrial accident in which a fellow worker Miller (Michael Ironside) loses an arm. Shocked by the accident (for which Reznik feels responsible) the various few people in his life seem supportive: a hooker named Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a waitress in an airport all night diner Marie (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón), and an ambiguous bald man Ivan (John Sharian) who appears to Reznik in strange ways.

Reznik's mind slowly disintegrates into paranoid delusions, the only way he can hold his life together is by post-its reminding him first of his documented progressive weight loss, then of his needs, then of his secret mystery. To say more would be a great disservice to the extraordinary plot.

Christian Bale delivers one of the most committed performances on film. He not only physically inhabits Reznik with his skeletal appearance, he also mentally nurtures all the nuances of fear, pain, pleasure and madness that build as his character's reason for a year of insomnia is revealed at the very end. We stand in suspense with him and his fall is as powerful as any Dante ever devised. The entire cast is superb but special kudos go to Jennifer Jason Leigh who finally has a role that allows her to demonstrate the spectrum of skill she possesses as an actress. Not an easy film, this, but a very important one. Highly recommended - but not to see alone! Grady Harp
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darkly atmospheric horror/mystery
ThrownMuse15 December 2004
Trever Reznick is an industrial machine operator who hasn't slept in a year and feels as if he is going crazy. A horrible accident in the workplace causes him to fall further down the spiral. Is there a conspiracy against him or is he going insane? The lead character is played with discomforting perfection by a repulsively thin and unrecognizable Christian Bale. This is a very moody and atmospheric film that is reminiscent of Lynch (though, by the end, it is a much more spelled-out than Lynch would do for the viewer). Still, it is a very gripping and disturbing movie. "The Machinist" is one of the better horror films released this year. My Rating: 8.5/10
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Haunting and Incredible!
Tool Man4 December 2004
Saw this incredible movie tonight and all I can say is WOW!! This movie is one you should definitely see if you enjoy such quality films like Vertigo, Psycho and most recently Identity. Massive kudos to Christian Bale who turned himself into a skeleton for the role and the wonderfully articulate pace of the director! As you watched it, you knew that there were answers at the end and the journey was simply captivating! Also fine, fine work by Michael Ironside and the absolutely gorgeous Jennifer Jason-Leigh who to this day looks just as hot as she did in Fast Times! If you have a chance to see this film and an open mind, make the trip to the ciniplex! Fantastic film!
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Moody and atmospheric, but ultimately predictable
michael h27 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The Machinist gives us the story of a man who hasn't slept in over a year. He's losing weight, his health is declining, and there's the possibility he's losing his sanity.

Christian Bale is excellent as the emaciated machinist, Trevor Reznik. The amount of weight he lost for this role is truly shocking. He lives in a dark, depressing world, in which he is (literally) slowly disappearing. Eventually he starts seeing strange things: A creepy coworker no one else can see. A waitress and her child who might not even exist. Cryptic notes are left on his refrigerator at home. Is he the victim of a conspiracy, or is he losing his mind?

The film attempts to weave a complex plot that keeps us guessing by blurring fantasy and reality. The Machinist falls in the same genre as Fight Club, Donnie Darko and Mulholland Drive. However, while those excellent movies gave us complex characters and intricate plots, there's not much mysterious about The Machinist. Most seasoned movie-watchers will guess that Reznik is living in a fantasy world fairly quickly. There's no real shock or surprise at the conclusion. We've seen this done before in better films.

I won't give an exact spoiler detailing what has caused Reznik's psychological break from reality. Rest assured, it's fairly trite and expected. This is essentially a morality tale about lingering guilt and eventually doing the right thing. For a film with an artistic, independent attitude, The Machinist is little more than a formulaic psychological thriller. Director Brad Anderson is clearly talented and this movie almost worked brilliantly. It just needed a little more complexity in character development and plot to truly engage (and surprise) the audience. After well over an hour of building suspense, one is left disappointed by the mundane conclusion.
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The modern reincarnation of a Greek tragedy
K_Todorov27 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
After his chilling horror "Session 9" Brad Anderson continues his journey exploring the darkest depths of the human mind with "The Machinist". This review is not meant to just show the aesthetic and structural qualities Anderson's movie has, but also to distance it from the impression of being a "Fight Club rip-off". The review CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS on both The Machinist and Fight Club and should only be read by people who have already seen these two movies.

Those who are familiar with Aristotle's view on art and specifically the mimesis and catharsis theories will find similarities here, or should I say an exact match to his idea for a "tragedy". "The Machinist" mimics the real world. It is not a supernatural or fantasy story, but something possible in the context of reality keeping to the "mimesis" theory (art should be something that imitates life, stays close to the rules on what is possible). The protagonist, a machinist, is plagued by insomnia and weight loss, the reason for this suffering isn't explained from the start, but later on. We sympathize with him, with the problems this man, Trevor Reznik, has. Why should an innocent, suffer like that, we ask. Why should he be punished if he hadn't committed a crime? The tragic catharsis, writes Aristotle, is the moment when the protagonist's sin is revealed, when we, the audience learn that the punishment he has received isn't unjust, when we know that innocence isn't subjectable to punishment, sin is. Scott Kosar wrote a Greek tragedy, Brad Anderson brought it to life.

The atmosphere? A bleak, nearly colorless look, sadness and dread combined. The gloomy melancholy, jitters the mind. Christian Bale's dedication to his craft is outstanding he takes it to a whole new level. What he underwent for this role, the performance, a range of emotions ranging from fear, shock, paranoia, regret,sorrow. It was more than Oscar-worthy, it was unreal. Director Brad Anderson creates tension and unease at places you wouldn't think it was possible, he delivers surprise after surprise in what may seem more like a hellish roller-coaster ride, then a traditional thriller. A low key musical score, perfect choice, for the tone. Quite a catching opening tune.

"The Machinist", it seems, ends with questions unanswered. The main plot line has been completed but some mechanisms that lead towards the conclusion are a bit fogged out of perception. Nonetheless they are there. The movie is, of course, open for interpretation and the following is simply my take on some of the sub-plots and characters.

On the opening scene. The opening scene is as we've learned, not a chronological first, but a sequence taken from the latter stage. Why? It exists as: –a stylistic approach to create tension, to grab the audience's attention from the start. –an early tip for the mystery the movie has (note Reznik's reaction, the shock in his eyes when dumping the body and when "someone" flashes him with a flashlight).

On the insomnia, weight loss and Ivan. The insomnia and Ivan are the reasons for "The Machinist" being a "Fight Club" ripoff argument. There were movies that used such ideas before Fight Club, Lynch's Lost Highway for example, it's nothing all too original. What these elements represent that is what's important. In "The Machinist" they are the punishment Trevor's guilt inflicts on him. We've all experienced guilt at one point or the other, and we know it can have an effect. Here that effect is taken to the extreme. Fight Club on the other hand had the Narrator's insomnia and split personality, Tyler Dyrden, created from frustration, his inability in adapting to the status quo, he can't sleep because he cannot see a reason for his existence, he makes Tyler who gives him a reason. Ivan is not a split personality, he doesn't take control over the protagonist's body like Tyler, no one except Reznik has seen or heard of him, he is a manifestation like Nicholas or Marie, he is the projection of sin and Trevor in the past. The Trevor who caused the accident, he will repeat it again in order to guide Bale's character to the truth.

On how Trevor Reznik lost his memory about the accident. During the sequence at the theme park where Trevor and Nicholas are walking through the dark tunnel, Trevor notes the similarities between his childhood and Nicholas's current life. Both lacked or lack a father-like figure in their life both are in a good relationship with their mothers. This is not an accident, since Nicholas is merely one of the manifestations in Reznik's subconscious mind there is little doubt that he is also a mirror image of Trevor as a young boy living with his mother. His subconscious guilt fills the gaps and fleshes out the two fictional characters using bits and pieces of his past life. This is done in order to make the two manifestations become believable to Trevor's now doubtlessly distorted perception. If Nicholas is in fact Trevor then what happened to Nicholas during the ride through "Route 666" is what actually happened to Trevor shortly after the accident. Epileptic shock as explained by Marie causes loss of memory "he will forget it ever happened". And indeed Trevor forgot, partially, in his subconscious the memory still existed.

Complex but structurally sound "The Machinist" is the dark, modern reincarnation of a Greek tragedy. Twisted and disturbing, sad but liberating, Scott Kosar, Brad Anderson and Christian Bale create a work of high caliber. Not something that can be enjoyed the way a Hollywood Blockbuster can be enjoyed, it is exhausting, yet pleasing in its own way.
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A new Raskolnikov
Armand16 November 2006
A strange story about freedom and guilty. Modern image of "Crime and Punishment". Our life like a shadow of the dreams and fear. Like a research a way of personal truth. No salvation, no cure. Only a refuge in a great lie. This movie is an important experience. Not like a theoretical experience,like a game without value, like a joke. "The Machinist " is a trip in your mind, in your memory, in the life's essence. "I am the other" said Rimbaud. But who? A ghost? A shadow? A body? A toy? The essence of movie is the relation with the world and the form of honesty. The presence of God in this movie is the way of resurrection. The car, the boy, the work accident, Maria, Ivan , Miller are the steps of a very special salvation. And Christian Bale, in his best character, a new Raskolnikov, know to give a great sense of truth to Trevor Reznik. A real master-piece!
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I'm Still Waiting
mido50514 June 2005
I really wanted to like The Machinist. As this film and his previous effort, Session 9, show, Brad Anderson is one of the best visual stylists working in film today, able to conjure up a dank, eerie, foreboding atmosphere from a budget that would not pay for David Fincher's lunch. He has a great compositional sense, is not afraid to be leisurely, and has a refreshingly uncluttered approach to mis-en-scene. Yet The Machinist, like Session 9, ultimately disappoints. I think there are two reasons for this.

The first is that, absent the conceit of Christian Bale's astonishing transformation, there is very little reason for this film to exist. The Machinist is a character study of a character who has, yes, very little weight. Despite Bale's best efforts, Trevor Reznick is a blank, a cypher, unpleasant and uninteresting. Although the film abounds in Hitchcock references, Anderson, screenwriter Scott Kosar, and Bale fail to assimilate the master's most important lesson: that the film's weirdo should be its most sympathetic and likable character. Anthony Perkins was cast as Norman Bates because of his image as the sweet, sensitive boy next door; Christian Bale, a prodigiously talented, but chilly and distant actor was, most assuredly, not.

As a character, Resnick lacks progression; because he is skeletal and bonkers from the beginning, there is no sense of horror as he is (quite literally) consumed by his own guilt. For this to work, some kind of contrast with normality is needed - the audience must witness a sensitive, precious soul slowly destroyed because of one small dreadful mistake. But Resnick is no Prince Myshkin. Rather, his guilt seems to be the only interesting thing in his otherwise dim, uncomprehending existence. The guilt gives his tedious life drama, meaning, and coherence. The film's final revelation should have been a shattering emotional climax; instead, it is the excuse for Resnick to take a much needed nap.

The second reason for The Machinist's failure is that Anderson seems to have trouble abandoning himself to his chosen genre. His direction of The Machinist, and of Session 9 as well, is detached, clinical, unengaged. There is no sense of love, or of passion, in what he is doing. Anderson seems drawn to horror, tempted by the opportunity it offers him to show what he can do with a camera, but he seems afraid to commit, to give himself over. It's as if he is too good, too cultured, too intelligent, too rational, for this kind of film. Yet he keeps coming back, as his next assignment, a remake of George Romero's The Crazies, shows.

There is no singular vision in Anderson's horror films, as there is in the work of Cronenberg, for example. There is no exuberant celebration of style, as there is in Argento's or DePalma's best works. Nor does there seem to be any political agenda, as there is in Romero's films. But despite the relative failure of Session 9 and The Machinist, I think there is something in Anderson, unformed and embryonic, waiting to burst forth, if only he can let go. He is a late talent, a grower not a shower. I don't think it will be seen in The Crazies, but I'm still waiting.
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A Nutshell Review: The Machinist
DICK STEEL10 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
There is a purpose in watching this movie, and that is to check out Christian Bales's acting chops before his Batman Begins opens in the summer.

The narrative is confusing at first. There doesn't seem to be any clear direction on where the plot and its subplots lead to. All we know is Bale looks thin, for some reason, isn't getting enough sleep, and develops relationships with a widow, her kid, and a hooker.

As always, most dark thrillers have a twist at the end, and if you can sit tight, you'll get it - not that it will be presented in a confusing manner, just that the pacing could be improved. Actually with shows like Fight Club and Memento around, this show might feel like a fusion between the two, and hence, you might have warranted a guess on the twist midway through the show.

Christian Bale has sacrificed quite a bit to look the role. With the lingering full body shots of his anorexic body, which at times is painful to look at, one can imagine the kind of toil it must have took.

Definite for fans of mysteries and thrillers.
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What was the point of making this movie?
pandabat1 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I'll start with the positive. The movie looks good with the faded color lending weight to our protagonist's jaded view of the world. The performances were also applaudable.

However, what was the point of making this movie? (Here comes the spoiler, if you can even call it that!!) From the moment where Ivan first disappears from view and is not recognised by co-workers in the factory, I started to say to myself "Please, not another alter-ego/split-personality story. Fight Club's done this already and done it rather well!" Alas, my fears were eventually realised but I remained optimistic, hopeful that maybe something imaginative might be done after the denouement. Once again I was disappointed.

This is a simplistic, boring story. It's a pity, as it's the best acting that I've seen Christian Bale do and the films palette is strangely appealing but if you want my advice, keep your money for something else!
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Listen, it could have worked.
randomtask30004 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
So, I think it's well established that this film is a failure of the "is it real?"" plot. People here are quick to cite the fact that this genre's recent popularity may have jaded them and made them aware of what was going to happen.

But the problem is not the formula, the problem is the execution. Many reviewers have mentioned "Fight Club" and "Memento" or "Beautiful Mind" as examples of successes in this storyline. But the crucial difference between these films and The Machinist is that, in the more successful films, the events which are later to be explained as madness are at least remotely believable.

In "Fight Club", we believe in the existence of Tyler Durden because he actually interacts with more people than just the main character. In "The Machinist", Ivan never interacts with anyone other than Trevor.

Later, when the foreman told Trevor that there was no such person as Ivan, I didn't feel any surprise. Instead I felt insulted. "Did they expect to catch me off guard with that? Of course he's not real!", I thought to myself. The film does nothing to lend any believability to Ivan's existence.

In the end, the film gives away the supposed twist with such obviousness, the only way they could possibly have surprised the audience would have been to reveal, at the end, that Trevor was in fact correct, that his boss, co-workers, escort, girlfriend, and Ivan were all actually conspiring against him.
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Astounding film with tension , blood , shocks and violence
ma-cortes16 November 2006
A factory worker called Trevor (Christian Bale) fatigued of insomnia receives estrange and indecipherable post-it notes that seem a bizarre riddle and going on odds events are happening . He hasn't slept for one year and suffers hallucinations , risking lives of industrial co-operators (Michael Ironside), causing injuries and amputations . Psychopathic , haunting visions by Trevor and his madness embroils two women , a prostitute (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and a mother (Aitana Sanchez Gijon) , increasingly , besides , with a co-worker (John Sharian) who nobody have ever seen . He tries to resolve which believes to be a scheme against him and a mysterious rout 666 leads to the final enigma .

The film contains mystery , violence , suspense in dark atmosphere with imposing tension and intrigue . The thin (exclusively for the film) Christian Bale makes a top-notch performance similarly to supporting cast who is frankly good . The producers of the film claim that Christian Bale dropped from about 173 pounds in weight down to about 110 pounds in weight to make this film and he regained it for Batman . Bale plays magnificently psycho and gloomy characters (as in Shaft , American psycho and even Batman) . The film was well shot in Catalunia (Spain) though to be just like whatever American city . Xavi Gimenez cinematography is excellent , creating a frightening and scary atmosphere , he's expert on sombre photography (Fragile, Intact, Nameless) . Mesmerizing and intriguing music by Roque Baños (Crimen Ferfecto , 88 bullets). The motion picture was nicely directed by Brad Anderson (Session 9) , although with little movement and brief action. Rating : Good and above average , it's one the highest earning suspense picture of the last years.
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Heavy stuff
Rogue-322 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers

Ever since I moved to California (from NYC) and started driving, I've always had it in the back of my mind that I had to be extremely careful that I didn't hit anyone while I was in my 2000+ lb. machine, particularly a child. I've always felt that this would be one of the worst things that could possibly happen in someone's life ~ how it would be just unforgivable, and how it would cause unfathomable guilt. So this film had a profound effect on me, by the end of it, when we find out what's really at the bottom of Trevor's severely tormented state of mind.

The film exists inside this mind; the entire film is experienced from this drastically tortured vantage point. Trevor no longer can perceive what is real and what isn't, and so we're not sure either. At first I was thinking the whole thing was a dream, but that didn't quite make sense, because from the way it's shot, with some of the scenes having a little color in them, and some nearly black and white, it felt more like hallucinations were occurring along with some flashes of reality. I think the filmmakers do an absolutely brilliant job in letting us into Trevor's head. Of course, Bale's 110% commitment to the project certainly doesn't hurt. Magnificently realized, The Machinist is a harrowing and monumentally sad cinematic experience.
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Yet another biased rating. Mediocre film.
Gustavo1 September 2005
As an old IMDb user and commenter, I am starting to feel that lately -no matter what algorithm is used-, more and more films are starting to have a definitely biased rating. And this one is a perfect example. Here you've got a very elementary (and mediocre) scripted thriller, one of those in which the director necessarily has to insert junk filming in between start and end in order to "comply" to the 90 minute minimum. Comparing this film to Memento or Angel Heart (just to mention two REAL masterpieces) is plain blasphemy. There is no way Memento or Angel Heart could last 15 minutes for example. But this one could perfectly fit even in 10. I still have to underrate in order to try average real rating. For me, true real rating for this one is 5 out of ten, not a cent more. Only worth if free on TV or cable. And if you are in "visually dark" mood, of course.
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More of a rip-off than a "homage"
jaded_viewer30 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
First of all, I really like Christian Bale - he generally stars in very good movies. He was great (IMO) in American Psycho, Equilibrium, and Batman Begins. The reviews for The Machinist are way up there, which I suspect increased my expectations. Regardless of the reviews, I would have watched it merely for Bale's decision to be in it. But here all of the actor's talents go to waste, which is a shame as Mr. Bale possibly shortened his life by losing so much weight for the role.

  • Spoilers and rants ahead -

The plot was unfortunately made incredibly obvious to me early on in the scene where the machine shop head honcho in the office said that no one with the mystery man's name worked there. OK, so the mystery man is a figment of the main character's imagination, no other explanation. Why do I need to watch the rest of the movie again? It was really a stupid move writing the scene that way, a little ambiguity here would have gone a long way.

Outside of the plot itself being the tired, overdone, reveal the lame-and-only twist too early sort, the music was annoyingly Hitchcockian and obtrusive. Telegraphing scenes with buckets of Theremin-laden orchestration worked pretty good back in the day, but there are good reasons no one does it in supposedly well-crafted movies anymore.

And the "gritty, depressing" blue filter thing has got to stop, and I mean now! A touch of blue is perhaps OK now and then, but nothing but shades of sickly blue just whacks you over the head and screams "look how arty we are!" Enough already. Drop the editing machine and back away from the blue filter, I just can't stand it anymore.

This is the kind of movie you get when the writing and direction just aren't up to snuff. What a waste of everyone's time involved with it, including this viewer's. Rating = 2/10.
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An incredible movie!
coryshpprd7 October 2006
Dark, thoughtful, and beautifully shot, this movie and particularly Bale's performance takes you down an alley, beats the hell out of you, and makes you want to come back for more. It's a nightmarish landscape on every level of the soul, with a message of redemption that stays with you for a long time. What Bale did to his body for this movie alone creeps under the audience's skin, and his crisis of guilt and self-loathing create a sub-reality that is inescapable. The terror is rarely on the surface, but always lurking in the sleepless shadows of Bale's mind.

Jennifer Jason Leigh and Michael Ironside also turn in superior performances.

Loved this movie.
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One of the most weird pieces I've seen in a very long time
scobbah18 July 2005
I were at the local video rental place yesterday with my friend, and this piece caught our attention. It turned out to be a really good choice! After seeing it, I made the conclusion that I had been kind of "stunned" for 85% of the movie, due to that it was really hard to keep up with the story but I did percept that this was the movie's intention to do. The Machinist is a really original movie and if you thought that you liked schizophrenic movies like 'Fight Club', you'll love this one as well.

This piece does easily score 8/10 for me, and I must admit that I was really mentally tired after seeing this. With this movie, it seems that even David Lynch gets a rough time beating this piece in level of weirdness.
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This film was a let down.
thuhchicken20 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I walked into this film having been enticed by the interesting trailers. The film had an interesting premise, and the fact that the lead actor lost so much weight for the role must have said something about the significance of the film. Halfway through the film, however, all my hopes were dashed. I realized that I was entirely apathetic to the characters and the chiche plot. The film tried to be interesting, dynamic and unpredictable but failed in every way. It was entirely predictable and uninteresting. Cinematographically, the film was beautiful, but that's about the only thing it had going for it. That, and good acting from veteran actors. The script, which attempted to be thrilling, failed to evoke any emotion. I don't remember the last time I was so annoyed by a film. Me, and everyone I was with, felt as if we had wasted two hours of our life on a meaningless piece of work.
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Creepy Psychodrama
Barky4423 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
It is so difficult to craft a first-person narrative from the viewpoint of a psychotic. When someone does manage this feat, however, the results can be fantastic, easily trumping any other type of thriller.

The Machinist is such a movie.

First we have the protagonist, played remarkably by Christian Bale. The problem with first-person psychodramas of this type is keeping the audience's empathy with the creep. Yes, it will be revealed that the protagonist is actually less than savory, but the audience has to still relate to the character as if he was the protagonist. The writer and actor do this brilliantly with Trevor. You not only physically see his pain, but you find yourself caring about the guy and wondering "what in the world happened that led him to this awful fate?" We care about Trevor, yet we know that somehow he has done something horrible.

Then we have the plot line. Psychodramas can overdo the plot, by overdoing the creep factor or make the person see obvious hallucinations. If it's too telegraphed you've demeaned the film by making it another teen shocker. But you can't underdo it, either, making it so boring the audience loses interest. The filmmakers here have kept a great balance. You're trying to figure out what's happening, what's real vs. what's imaginary, trying to see how the pieces fit. It's this puzzlement, with enough answers yet still enough questions, that keeps an audience involved. Too many questions and audiences give up, too many answers and the audience doesn't respect you.

Finally, and most importantly, you have the climax. So many good psychothrillers resolve themselves in outlandish ways, or in mundane, pathetic ways. The Machinist ends so aptly, in a way that you can both despise and pity Trevor. So the whole build-up isn't wasted on silliness, nor is it lost in a sea of gore and action. The Machinist strikes a perfect balance.

A few other things work in this film's favor:

-- Supporting cast is very strong. Jennifer Jason Leigh is very believable as a sympathetic hooker, and the cast of the machine shop are spot-on (I've worked in machine shops and they got those guys down pat!).

-- Cinematography. All throughout the film the lighting is just subtly off, and I mean that in a good way. It keeps you just slightly off balance, adding to the protagonist's unstable state.

-- Set design. It's filmed in Spain, but dressed up as America. While I was watching this movie, I felt the surroundings were also a little bit off. I wasn't entirely sure why, until I learned it was filmed in Spain but dressed as America. This doesn't come off as cheesy at all, however. It actually adds to the "tweak" of visual psychosis. All the details are accurate, but the "feel" is wrong. It was probably a happy accident that this happened, but it does add to the feeling that Trevor simply isn't seeing things correctly.

Overall, this is a well done psychodrama. 9 out of 10. For a bit of time it repeats itself, but other than that it's quite excellent.

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