At face value, you are going to have a lot of reasons to
dislike The Machinist, the latest effort by Brad
Anderson who was the director of Happy Accidents
and Session 9.
first and obvious reason would be the Scott Kosar penned
script. Kosar’s last gig was as scribe for the Texas
Chainsaw Massacre remake in 2003. ‘Nuff said.
the film seemingly looks and feels like it owes a considerable
amount of its inspiration from Christopher Nolan’s
Memento right down to Christian Bale’s Trevor
Reznik, a man whose past is seemingly creeping up on him.
fact that Reznik constantly leaves himself “post-it”
note reminders around his apartment doesn’t help diffuse
the similarities between the two films either.
ahead, hate this film if you choose to. Or you could opt
to look past these potential obstructions and allow the
whole experience to wash over you instead. If you do, you
may just be surprised.
Reznik is like a frayed sweater that, much like a car accident,
you can’t pull yourself away from watching unravel.
the Memento comparisons, the film actually owes
a lot more to the work of Alfred Hitchcock. The thematic
uses of suspense, sound, and character coupled with a score
that recalls a culmination of classic Bernard Herrmann elements
begs to recall Hitch’s greatest hits. And
it works. The film is as introspective as any Hitchcockian
thriller, as we delve deeper into Reznik’s troubles,
we find ourselves plumbing the depths of human nature as
plot must be avoided at all costs, but I think it is safe
to skim some of the surface elements. We begin with Reznik
dumping a body that has been rolled up in a rug. Surprisingly
comedic, the scene shows us what we need to know to begin
our journey. It’s also safe to divulge that Trevor
works in a machine shop, with the sights and sounds of various
drillpresses and arc wielding taking place around him.
that Trevor frequents a hooker named Stevie (Jennifer Jason
Leigh), and is considered her best customer. When she states
that she worries about him because he doesn’t look
so good, he informs her that he hasn’t slept in a
point to note, as it will likely be expressed in every article
written about this film, is that Bale lost an incredible
40 to 60 pounds (depending on who is reporting) for the
role. Exactly how much Bale lost is somewhat irrelevant;
dwelling on describing just how emaciated Bale looks is
moot as his appearance speaks volumes.
also passes time by hanging around an airport coffee shop
and flirting with a waitress named Marie (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón).
The contrast between mother and whore within these two women
is strikingly Hitchcockian as well.
a hangman puzzle appears on Trevor’s fridge, and strange
man named Ivan (John Sharian) starts shadowing Trevor at
work the plot starts unfurling at a more rapidly increasing
main goal becomes solving the puzzle and figuring out why
these things are happening to him. His quest leads him in
all directions, and the intensity is never too overwrought
but remains enhanced by the severity of Reznik (and Bale’s)
and Kosar offer countless puzzle pieces for their viewers
to mull over during the course of the film, and each one
is multi-layered and meaningful. Not all of these clues
work into the ending the way one might expect, and this
adds to the overall flare of the film.
performance stands out here, and makes the film worth checking
out alone. Also notable is Leigh’s hooker with a heart
of gold, a recycled conceit that Leigh somehow manages to
pull off, making us invest in her character.
like The Machinist seemingly scream out “twist-ending,”
especially with the use of the hangman puzzle device. Those
growing tired of these passé devices might find themselves
surprised here. The subtle approach makes the whole thing
come together not only in an agreeable fashion, but seamlessly
a perfect film, but a captivatingly introspective thriller
with an interesting payoff that is worth checking out.