Genre: Psychological Thriller
Director: Brad Anderson
Starring: Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, John Sharian, Michael Ironside
RunTime: 1 hr 42 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films
Rating: NC-16 (Sexual References)

Released Date: 10 Feb 2005

Synopsis (Courtesy from Cathay-Keris Films):

Trevor Reznik, a machinist, has lost the ability to sleep. But this is no ordinary insomnia. Trevor has not slept in a year. Fatigue has led to a shocking deterioration of his physical and mental health. Suspicious of his appearance, Trevor’s co-workers first shy away from him, then turn against him after he’s involved in a shop accident that costs a man his arm. They blame Trevor for the accident. He has become a liability to himself and others, and now they want him out.
Plagued with guilt, Trevor’s shame becomes suspicion, then paranoia, when it appears his workmates are conspiring to have him fired –- or worse. First he finds cryptic notes left in his apartment. Next he’s told that a mysterious co-worker involved in the accident doesn’t exist.
Are these mysteries part of a plot to drive Trevor mad? Or is it fatigue that’s robbing him of his reason?
Determined to find an answer, Trevor investigates the strange occurrences that are turning his world into a sleepless nightmare. Yet the more he learns, the less he wants to know.

Movie Review:

If anyone doubt the level of commitments that Christian Bale have for the role he played, The Machinist would properly put an end to it. Losing an astounding 60 Pounds by keeping to a strict diet of 1 can of tuna and an apple a day for the role of factor operator tormented by insomnia had to be one of the memorable sacrifice by an actor for a film in recent cinema history.

The sacrifice was worth it as it helps to paint a believable unhealthy obsession to stay awake. Which would intrigue the viewers into uncovering the cause of such obsession and why a seemly nice guy like Trevor Reznik would not allow himself to good night rest. It will also make you wonder how such he could still work in such a tired condition, operating heavy machinery.

The background setting of a machinery factory also radiates impending accidents that could happen working in such a condition. Fatigue does not work well in a factory setting, especially one that involved with handing machines that could be unforgiving and menacing if not handle properly.

Director Brad Anderson used the background setting well enough that every scene with the machines will create the foreboding feel. He also significantly de-saturated the color; creating the atmosphere of detachment and loneliness that aid the viewers to sympathize with the character Trevor descends into a mental state of paranoia.

The supporting casts are well chosen to help add different emotional layers to this film. The call girl (Jennifer Jason Leigh) with a soft spot for Trevor and an airport waitress (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón) who Trevor visited every night gave a sympathetic support view of Trevor’s condition while the mysterious stranger (John Sharian) helped to push Trevor over the limits of distrust. Without these supporting casts, Christian Bale’s character would properly be only as memorable as the circle sideshow freak.

The Machinist is one of those intriguing psychological horror films that will make you want to stay awake through some of the slow draggy moments of the film for the ending. Even though the ending was a fitting and reasonable one, this film ending somehow lack the big punch that it was winding up for. Although I found the ending to be less than satisfactory, I would recommend to watch this film for Christian Bale’s sacrifice for the on screen transformation and his portrayal of a paranoid insomniac are already well worth the ticket price.


Movie Rating: B-

Review by our columnist, Richard Lim Jr

  Publicity Stills of "The Machinist" (Courtesy from Cathay-Keris Films)

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