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The Machinist
2004 - R - 102 Mins.
Director: Brad Anderson
Producer: Julio Fernandez
Written By: Scott Kosar
Starring: Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, Michael Ironside
Review by: Joe Rickey
Official Site:
Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale) is having a tough time of it lately. He has not been able to sleep in an entire year (!) and his appetite has waned to the point that he has become the embodiment of a walking skeleton. In fact, the only food he consumes on a regular basis is apple pie and coffee at the local airport diner, where he befriends waitress Marie (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón). His only other companionship comes in the form of call-girl Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh). She too is a lost soul of sorts and feels a sense of pity for his deteriorating condition. Meanwhile, Reznik is barely able to hold onto his job as an industrial machinist at a machine shop near his home. His insomnia leads to an unfortunate accident and the subsequent injury of a coworker. He has yet to realize all that is coming to him though. He begins seeing a bald-headed man who calls himself Ivan around work, despite the fact that no one else even knows whether the man exists. Complicating issues even more are the cryptic notes, a variation of Hangman, that he finds posted on his refrigerator; revealing what he believes to be a widespread conspiracy against him. And oh yeah, the aforementioned refrigerator is bleeding. Is Trevor Reznik just imagining things or is there something even more sinister at work?

With 'The Machinist' director Brad Anderson ('Session 9') has created a spectacularly chilling and consistently moody film buoyed by what is easily the best performance of the year in Christian Bale's haunting portrayal of a man on the brink of insanity and paranoia. The film's plot is effectively constructed as to keep the viewer guessing until the appropriate and entirely satisfying conclusion. Anderson and screenwriter Scott Kosar ('The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' remake) have made it a priority to not only engage the viewer in Reznik's distorted state of mind and his perception of the world around him, they envelope the viewer in it moreso than any other recent film could claim with a look that borders on film noir in its style. The film is one of the few productions that keep one on the edge of his or her seat even when it appears that nothing too "important" is happening on-screen. We are so intrigued by what Reznik will discover next and where the discovery will lead him that just the act of him moving through his claustrophobic apartment is more chilling than most horror films could ever claim to be during their best moments. The performances though are what really set this film apart.

In the lead role, Christian Bale has delivered the best performance of the year, no question. His Trevor Reznik is an ever-interesting character to behold. His sickness is aptly portrayed and the actor has clearly given it his all in a well-rounded performance. As far as emotions are concerned, the unstable nature of Mr. Reznik means that Bale has a superbly challenging task in making the character seem believable in his apparent insanity. Bale succeeds with flying colors, even going as far as to lose 63 pounds and drop his weight down to a dangerous 110 pounds, illustrating the wasting away of Reznik’s psyche along with a true dedication to his craft that one wishes more actors would show. Jennifer Jason Leigh and Aitana Sánchez-Gijón also lend their evocative performances to the film as the only two people in Reznik's life that pay him any attention.

With a lead performance by Christian Bale that cannot be beat and the creepily subtle directorial style of Brad Anderson, 'The Machinist' is not only the best psychological thriller of the year; it just may be the best film of the year, period.
Movie Guru Rating
A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic.
  5 out of 5 stars

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