The Machinist is currently available on Amazon Prime.
“An industrial worker who has not slept in a year begins to doubt his own sanity “
“Who are you?”
The Machinist represents method acting at its finest. Christian Bale lost over sixty pounds to play this role, dropping all the way down to 110. He wanted to lose more but the producers became concerned about his health. He had no more than an apple, a can of tuna, and a cup of black coffee each day for months and that was it. He even took up smoking to fight the hunger cravings. Immediately after The Machinist, Bale had to turn around and bulk up for Batman Begins. Now that is a dedicated actor. Be right back – I am off to grab a snack.
Christian Bale does a fantastic job of playing Trevor Reznick. In addition to his increasing weight loss and insomnia, Reznick suffers from a bizarre set of behaviors often associated with meth addiction: obsessive-compulsive disorder, paranoia, an inability to get his hands clean – even using bleach, and a concern that he might be hallucinating.
Bale is ably supported by co-star Jennifer Jason Leigh. Leigh underwent her own metamorphosis when she went down to 86 pounds to play an anorexic in The Best Little Girl in the World (1981). Here she plays Stevie, a down on her luck prostitute. Aitana Sanchez-Gijon is good as a sympathetic waitress. John Sharian is the mysterious Ivan.
Poor character actor Michael Ironside. In Total Recall (1990), he plays a villain who loses his arms to hero Schwarzenegger. In Starship Troopers (1997), he loses an arm in the military. Well let us just say that maybe he is typecast here.
Writer Scott Kosar turned in a brilliant script for The Machinist. Unfortunately the Hollywood studios felt it was too dark and Kosar and director Brad Anderson could not get it filmed. They finally found backing in Spain so, in spite of the whole film being in English with mostly English and American actors, it was filmed entirely in Barcelona with tons of props to make it seem like Los Angeles.
Literature majors will find much to love here as the script is an amalgamation of, not to mention an homage to, the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky. Nods to Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, and The Double are featured in the plot, characters and visually.
Brad Anderson and cinematographer Xavi Gimenez make wonderful use of the 2.35 scope and give the film a wonderful modern expressionistic look. The score by Roque Banos is evocative of Bernard Herrman, particularly in the use of the theremin. These are all in support of the wonderful story and performance of Christian Bale.
People Watch: Reg E. Cathey, who plays Jones in The Machinist, previously worked with Bale on American Psycho as Al, the derelict. He would go on to play Norman Wilson on The Wire.