The Machinist (DVD)


“Not as breathtakingly imaginative as “Memento”, but still a very impressive and palpably different film experience” – Clint Morris

The Machinist (DVD)

Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, John Sharian, Michael Ironside

If ugly-ing ones self up leads to awards then Christian Bale’s going to need to build a couple of extra shelves in his trophy room. For his role in the intriguing Indy mystery “The Machinist”, the Brit actor has set himself a mission: to near evaporate by the film’s end credits, and my golly if he doesn’t almost achieve that objective – he’s thinner than a post-it and more skeletal than a four week old corpse.

So why did the proficient British actor – soon to become a household name with his role as the Caped Crusader in “Batman Begins” – drop so much weight and dunk himself in ugly juice? Well, that’s a mystery that unravels about the same time as this film’s ingenious twist. But yes, it’s for good reason – and Brad Anderson’s pic is all the more better for having such a submerged performance as garnish.

With creepy noir-esque melody, inexplicable strangers, evocative carnival rides, blood dripping from a fridge, wacky camera-shots and nutty characters left, right and centre (oh and more unpredictable twists than the roads to Mt Bulla) you’d think “The Machinist” was the work of David Lynch. But unlike a lot of the great Lynch’s flicks – this one actually comes together, even if it does have you scratching your head for an hour before it starts joining it’s own dots.

Another twist-filled mystery riding the coat tails of the praiseworthy “Memento” (2000), “The Machinist”, tells of a freakishly thin loner (Bale) who has been battling insomnia for a year. Trevor Reznick seems to be losing it – he’s mistrustful, he’s jittery, and he’s certain there’s something strange going on: beginning with a freak accident he’s been blamed for at work. So who is the bald guy in the car that’s following him around? Why is there a game of hangman stuck on a post-it note on his fridge? And why the hell is he getting so vomit-inducingly thin?

Brad Anderson’s film isn’t as enjoyable as it is commendable but it’s still an intriguing picture. It dawdles here and there; really only gathering steam in it’s last half an hour, but
comes together so well that it’s inexorably the kind of film that’s going to leave an impression, in addition to a mark on top of the noggin where you’ve been scratching for the film’s duration.

There are some consistent highlights throughout: namely the performance of Christian Bale – overpoweringly transforming himself both mentally and physically to play the intriguing Reznik, and also, the look, feel and arrangement of the picture: Everything from it’s shadowy colours to audacious cinematography consistently keeps you interested, even when the yarn doesn’t.

Not as breathtakingly imaginative as “Memento”, but still a very impressive and palpably different film experience, “The Machinist” deserves a look – and it ain’t good to know that your money’s going to go to good use: a steak dinner for its star.

A brief featurette outdone by the unblemished audio and video transfer. Did expect a few more extras – but that could possibly be down the road.

Rating :
Reviewer : Clint Morris