Trevor Reznick (Christian Bale, “Batman Begins”) hasn’t slept in a year, disrupting his appetite, causing him to lose 70 pounds. He works at a factory, on a machine, making parts for other parts. During the night, he fills his hours with the attentions of Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a prostitute, and Marie (Aitana Sanchez Gijon), the Graveyard shift waitress at a local café. One day, a co-worked has an accident, which may have been caused by Trevor. Feelings of guilt join his paranoia and send him into a tailspin.
“The Machinist” was made long before “Batman Begins” and the most striking thing about the film is what Bale did to his body to become Trevor. He lost 70 pounds, causing his body to become emaciated, bones showing through pallid skin. The physical transformation is amazing and painful to watch.
Looking past the physical, Bale has once again created a believable, interesting, three dimensional character. Trevor moves through his life as if walking through a thick fog, a condition of his exhaustion. Many times, he is about to fall asleep when some sound, some disturbance jolts him awake. He also begins to imagine things, adding to his paranoia. Bale keeps the performance very low key adding elements of realism to the character. It would be completely unbelievable to watch a character who is physically exhausted start screaming and jumping around hysterically at any point. His pain and guilt, after his co-worker’s accident, are also very low key, until he begins to suspect that someone may be plotting something against him. As the paranoia begins to take hold, his performance becomes a little more manic, but Bale still keeps it low key.
Directed by Brad Anderson (“Session 9”, “Happy Accidents”), the film’s cinematography is almost monochromatic. Virtually all color has been drained from the screen. Some scenes have a touch of green or a touch of red, but everything is predominantly black, white and gray. Imagine if you haven’t slept for a year. How screwed up would everything appear in your eyes? As we are watching the film through Trevor’s POV, it is necessary for us to see his world as he views it. Anderson accomplishes this beautifully through this cinematic style.
As the story progresses, we begin to sense that something may be underlying Trevor’s paranoia. The film is a mystery of sorts, as Trevor works to uncover what this is. This element of is interesting and well-done, worked throughout to seem believable.
“The Machinist” is an interesting, involving, well-made film starring one of the better actors working in film today. Definitely worth renting.