The Machinist, starring Christian Bale



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Rating: R (for violence, and disturbing images, sexuality and language)
Genre: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:    Brad Anderson
Written By:     Scott Kosar
In Theaters:     Oct 22, 2004  Wide

Brad Anderson directs the psychological thriller The Machinist, a production of Spain's Filmax company. Christian Bale plays Trevor Reznik, a factory lathe operator who has developed a serious case of insomnia. Lack of sleep has already started to wear down on his brain and his body. When he's involved in an accident at work, his co-workers turn against him. He starts to find strange notes in his apartment and see people that apparently aren't there. He then embarks on a journey to find out whether there is an elaborate plot to drive him mad or his fatigue has simply robbed him of reason. Jennifer Jason Leigh stars as call girl Stevie. The Machinist premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi

Michael IronsideMiller
Christian BaleTrevor Reznik
Anna MasseyMrs Shrike
Reg E CatheyJones
John SharianIvan
Larry Gillard JrJackson
Jennifer Jason LeighStevie
Aitana Sanchez-GijonMarie


The Machinist - Trailer




*** Roger Ebert / November 18, 2004

"If you were any thinner," Stevie tells him, "you wouldn't exist." Trevor Reznik weighs 121 pounds and you wince when you look at him. He is a lonely man, disliked at work, up all night, returning needfully to two women who are kind to him: Stevie, a hooker, and Marie, the waitress at the all-night diner out at the airport. "I haven't slept in a year," he tells Marie.

Christian Bale lost more than 60 pounds to play this role, a fact I share not because you need to know how much weight he lost, but because you need to know that it is indeed Christian Bale. He is so gaunt, his face so hollow, he looks nothing like the actor we're familiar with. There are moments when his appearance even distracts from his performance, because we worry about him. Certainly we believe that the character, Trevor, is at the end of his rope, and I was reminded of Anthony Perkins' work in Orson Welles' "The Trial," another film about a man who finds himself trapped in the vise of the world's madness.

Trevor works as a machinist. There's a guy like him in every union shop, a guy who knows all the rules and works according to them and is a pain in the ass about them. His co-workers think he is strange; maybe he frightens them a little. His boss asks for a urine sample. One day he gets distracted and as a result one of his co-workers loses a hand. The victim, Miller (Michael Ironside) almost seems less upset about the accident than Trevor is. But then Trevor has no reserve, no padding; his nerve endings seem exposed to pain and disappointment.

Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is a consolation. They have sex, yes, but that's the least of it. She sees his need. Trevor is reading Dostoyevsky's The Idiot and perhaps there is a parallel between Stevie and Nastassia, Dostoyevsky's heroine, who is drawn to a self-destructive and dangerous man. Leigh has played a lot of prostitutes in her career, but each one is different because she defines them by how they are needed as well as by what they need.

Marie (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon) is the other side of the coin, a cheerful presence in the middle of the night. "You're lonely," she tells Trevor. "When you work graveyard shift as long as I have, you get to know the type." She wonders why he comes all the way out to the airport just for a cup of coffee and a slice of pie. She wouldn't mind dating him.

Then there is the matter of Ivan (John Sharian), the distracting and disturbing co-worker who perhaps contributed to the accident. He lost some fingers in a drill press once, and the docs replaced them with his toes. "I can't shuffle cards like I used to," he says. Nor, apparently, can he punch in on the time clock: The guys at the shop claim he doesn't exist. Is Trevor imagining him? And what is the meaning of the Post-It notes that look like an incomplete version of a Hangman puzzle?

"The Machinist" has an ending that provides a satisfactory, or at least a believable, explanation for its mysteries and contradictions. But the movie is not about the plot, and while the conclusion explains Trevor's anguish, it doesn't account for it. The director Brad Anderson, working from a screenplay by Scott Kosar, wants to convey a state of mind, and he and Bale do that with disturbing effectiveness. The photography by Xavi Gimenez and Charlie Jiminez is cold slates, blues and grays, the palate of despair. We see Trevor's world so clearly through his eyes that only gradually does it occur to us that every life is seen through a filter.

We get up in the morning in possession of certain assumptions through which all of our experiences must filter. We cannot be rid of those assumptions, although an evolved person can at least try to take them into account. Most people never question their assumptions, and so reality exists for them as they think it does, whether it does or not. Some assumptions are necessary to make life bearable, such as the assumption that we will not die in the next 10 minutes. Others may lead us, as they lead Trevor, into a bleak solitude. Near the end of the movie, we understand him when he simply says, "I just want to sleep."




IMDb User Reviews

An urban nightmare with an incredible performance by Christian Bale

13 November 2006 / by Camera-Obscura

THE MACHINIST (Brad Anderson - Spain 2004).

"If you were any thinner," Stevie tells him, "you wouldn't exist." Trevor Reznik weighs 121 pounds and you wince when you look at him. He is a lonely man, disliked at work, up all night, returning needfully to two women who are kind to him: Stevie, a hooker, and Marie, the waitress at the all-night diner out at the airport. "I haven't slept in a year," he tells Marie.

Christian Bale is Trevor Reznik, a machinist in an anonymous factory somewhere in America. He is obviously scarred by some past incident but what is it? He finds mysterious notes on his refrigerator, saying 'who are you?' He sees colleagues that don't exist. He seems to have lost it completely.

A Spanish production, but with Brad Anderson at the helm as director and an almost exclusively American cast, this is basically an American film. I must admit, I kept shelving this one, due to reasons I cannot really recall now I've finally watched it, but it probably had something to do with Christian Bale's insane weight loss and all the surrounding publicity. I assumed the film was all about Bale's loss of weight and not much more. A method boy in a film solely hyped for an actor's dedication to play the part, but the film blew me away, as simple as that. Christian Bale gives a solo turn here almost unseen before. No matter how many pounds he lost, it's a remarkable performance. 

Director Brad Anderson succeeds brilliantly in conceiving an atmosphere that is so compelling, as one other user on the IMDb stated, 'You just HAVE to know what the hell is going on here.' I think that's the key factor in what makes this film so incredibly compelling. The whole setting is an anonymous industrial town somewhere in the US, that could be Pennsylvania, Michigan or upstate New York (actually, it was shot near Barcelona), but it doesn't really matter where the story is located. It's the atmosphere of estrangement that does it. And Christian Bale gives such an intense performance you really want to know his cause and background. Where on earth does he come from? We know he works in a greasy factory, but why is he skin-over-bone? Why hasn't he slept in over a year? Brad Anderson creates an atmosphere so broody and sleazy, it's like a netherworld, an urban nightmare. In a certain way it reminded me of the strange urban landscape in "Eraserhead" by David Lynch.

Camera Obscura --- 9/10



Tomatometer CRITICS 77% | AUDIENCE 83%



Oct 24, 2011
Andrea Gronvall   Chicago Reader   Top Critic
Talk about Method acting: Christian Bale (American Psycho) dropped over 60 pounds to play the title role in this psychological mystery directed by Brad Anderson (Next Stop Wonderland). By day Bale's emaciated loner operates heavy machinery, by night he finds solace with a call girl (Jennifer Jason Leigh), and in between he courts a single mom (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon)—he's got the time because he literally doesn't sleep. The color scheme of cool blues and grays accentuates the bleakness of the industrial landscape and the protagonist's increasing isolation and pallor, and the theremin on the sound track provides an otherworldly touch. Until now Bale's screen persona has been defined by a graceful athleticism; here his physicality is repellent, yet he carries the occasionally creaky plot of Scott Kosar's unsettling screenplay to a resonant finish. R, 102 min.


Feb 9, 2006
Geoff Andrew Time Out Top Critic
Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale) doesn’t have the happiest of lives. He’s virtually ostracised by colleagues at the plant where he operates a lathe; the only company he keeps is with a whore (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and an airport-diner waitress (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon) who he chats to nightly; he’s so skeletally skinny that folks openly comment on it, and he hasn’t slept for ages. Still, he’s mostly a pleasant, pretty calm character – until the mysterious Ivan (John Sharian) enters his life…

From the opening sequence – Trevor wrapping a corpse in his carpet and taking it to the sea – it’s clear we’re in for some heavy-duty expressionism. A lick of Lynch, a pinch of Polanski, a modicum of ‘Memento’, heaps of Herrmannesque  menace on the music track – all this and Anna Massey, mirrors, dismemberment, machinery, dead mothers, doubles, Dostoevsky, post-it notes, power cuts, ghost trains, sewers, bleach…

Director Brad Anderson and writer  Scott Kosar toss everything including the kitchen sink into the pot, as their emaciated somnambulist protagonist tries to fathom how he got to such a bleary, bruised and scarred state of being (or not-being?). The resulting stew, frankly, is a bit messy; though it almost makes some kind of psychological sense, it never really persuades as an authentic portrait of a tormented mind.

That said, it’s very watchable; above all, one can’t deny the dubious appeal of the spectacle of the skin-and-bone Bale, quite possibly endangering his health for the sake of his art. Against the odds, the crazed intensity of his performance makes the movie work.


Oct 24, 2011
Victoria Alexander
A brilliant, harrowing performance by Bale


May 18, 2009
Ryan Cracknell    Movie Views
Carnival freak shows thrived on the basis of curiosity. They offered something so ugly and told a tale so horrific, people flocked to them on mass just to see what it was all about. And feel better about the safety in their “normalness” in the process. It’s with the same fascination that plays out in Brad Anderson’s disturbing tale The Machinist comes to life.

Christian Bale’s skeleton plays Trevor Reznik, a machine worker who hasn’t slept in over a year. With every day that passes his frail frame becomes smaller and smaller. He’s literally wasting away and it’s disturbing as hell. The reason for Trevor’s insomnia is a mystery but the fallout is somebody dressing up as a bat and hitting the streets to fight crime. Instead he’s drinking coffee at an airport café and growing increasingly paranoid.

The weirdness gets even strong as Trevor starts being taunted by the appearance of Ivan (John Sharian), a guy on the factory swing shift who lives on the wild side and has huge teeth. Seems normal enough, which is until the people around Trevor have no idea who this guy Ivan is. So if he real or just a manifestation of Trevor’s increasingly scarred mind? Does it really matter?

I’ve got a rule when watching movies and TV: whenever the idea of sleep is introduced, I don’t trust it. Anything can happen and reality can shift. With that in mind, watching The Machinist I was able to get into the paranoia of it all. Anderson does an excellent job of establishing a depressing mood. The color palette is almost black and white in its bleached approach. Vibrant color is at a premium, reflecting the fact that Trevor’s vision of the world is becoming increasingly blurred and sterile.

Helping matters is Bale’s physical performance. I don’t know if he enjoyed the experience of losing so much weight but he certainly did embrace it with his performance. Whereas when one puts on weight for a role, padding is an option. Plus it’s fun to eat. But allowing yourself to waste away to the point where you’d expect to see Sally Struthers jump into a scene and talk to a 1-800 number, there’s no faking it. Bale doesn’t shy from showing his frame off and its freakish look becomes an important part of the film.

When I first saw The Machinist in theaters several years ago, it was Bale’s look that I remembered first and the mood second. On second watch, it’s the other way around. Bale, who was moving onto superstardom in Batman Begins immediately afterward, became bigger than the movie itself. But now that stardom has come, it’s easier to sit back and reflect on the film. Outside forces such as stardom shouldn’t tint watching a movie, but it can. So with time as a buffer, it’s now easier to see The Machinist for what it is: a labyrinthine leap down the rabbit hole into a nightmarish wonderland filled with paranoia and with a truly gloomy and grim look at memory and personal torture.

With the visual look of the film so important to The Machinist, the stunning widescreen 1080p high definition picture on the Blu-ray disc does the job. It conveys the drab, murky themes, all the while showing it with tremendous clarity. Audio is offered in several options: English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, French 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. Subtitles are also offered in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

Director Brad Anderson provides an honest and personable commentary track in which he discusses the making of the film, the logistics of it, some of his goals, as well as some commentary on the moviemaking industry. It’s definitely an insider’s take, but he talks in such a way that he doesn’t make himself to be all important, nor does he talk down to the viewer. Shown in HD, “Manifesting The Machinist” is a 23-minute featurette that takes the film from the idea stage with writer Scott Kosar through to filming. “Hiding in Plain Sight” is another featurette shown in HD. Running 14 minutes, it breaks down all the hints the script and the film leave as to the puzzle of the film’s subconscious meaning.”Breaking the Rules” is another making-of featurette that consists of lots of cast and crew interviews done with very raw, home video-style footage. The Blu-ray also has eight deleted or alternate scenes (two of which have optional commentary) totaling 12 minutes and the film’s theatrical trailer.



***½ Mickaw90 . April 22, 2011
Christian Bale did an excellent performance in this movie. The movie was dark with a good script. Okay without Bale it would have been not that interesting.


** Brianna Meryl S April 21, 2011
Christian Bale's skeleton stars in this mediocre film, with the same twists as most of the psychological thrillers for the past few years. I felt kind of disgusted after watching it. 120 lb Christian Bale creeps me the F out. Black Swan & Fight Club did this film, and better. I also think naming the main character after Trent Reznor is pretty lame.


**** Chiek E April 20, 2011
Insomnia and guilt combined has powerful psychotic effects. Christian Bale turned in a masterful performance only he could for this role. He played a man with a conscience plagued with the guilt of his crime. Tortured for a sleepless year of delusions and surreal characters, he finally found sleep again after he turned himself in to the police. First role where Christian starved himself for the emaciated role. Amazing!


****½ Castle91 Shane V  April 20, 2011
Trevor Reznick lives a somewhat lonely life. He works a menial job as (you guessed it) a machinist. He has friends at the plant, a woman he enjoys, and a friendly coffee server. But his failing health and severe insomnia are beginning to worry him. Of course it all comes to a head when he meets a new worker at the plant named Ivan. And with that meeting, Trevor's whole life begins collapsing in on him.

Now THIS is the kind of psychological thriller/mystery film that should be truly appreciated. First of all, the acting is excellent on all fronts, with Christian Bale delivering probably his best performance since "American Psycho." And as if that weren't enough, his dedication to the character is simply astounding, dropping down to a mere 120 pounds. Simply amazing. Brilliant direction combined with a fine eerie score gives way to an excellent atmosphere, and Bale's performance really gives us a fine view into our hero Trevor. The pacing is just about perfect, revealing piece after piece in such an even and precise manner, leading us to a brilliant and fitting conclusion with a fine layer of psychological meaning put into just about every element of the film. The script is excellent, and not one line seems out of place. The only negative thing I can say about this film is that it's predictable, but it's carried out so perfectly and precisely that it doesn't really seem to matter. There is also a lack of fluff scenes, just to show us Trevor's lifestyle, but that matters about as much as the predictability does. Overall, it's a brilliant portrait of an ill man as he moves through the excellently-crafted mystery/thriller that is his mind. Great tension, stupendous acting, fine atmosphere, and it's short enough to sneak in on an afternoon. You'd be hard-pressed to find any problems with this film, and thusly any reason not to see it. I regret not watching it sooner, and I hope you won't. I'm giving "The Machinist" 9.5 sticky notes out of 10.


***½ Thomas W April 19, 2011
Christian Bale is incredible, as usual.


****½ Johnny V  April 17, 2011
An absolutely great movie. I watched a lot of old Twilight Zone episodes the past couple of days, and watching this movie continued the feeling. A psychological thriller at its finest, and Bale's performance is nothing short of amazing.


 ****½ Super Reviewer
Kevin M  April 16, 2011
Pretty cool. Very dark and bleak, psychologically troubling, and a good performance from Christian Bale. It's like a movie that Christopher Nolan would have made.


***½ Corinna C  April 16, 2011
Big time respect for Christian Bale for doing this role


***** Kris L April 16, 2011
One of the best movies I've ever seen. The paranoia level in the movie and the tone is similar to a few other popular movies, the reveal at the end with the body dump and the final scene really blew me away. It's very gritty doesn't let you get comfortable. I found myself sincerely hoping that the lead character got out okay in the end, that never happens to me. Absolutely recommend it.


***½ DemiRonin Jordan F April 16, 2011
A great performance by Bale but a film you'll probably need to see twice to get everything

A psychological drama in which Christian Bale works as a machinist with very heavy and dangerous machines. He suffers insomnia and hasn't been able to sleep for the past year. He has a relationship with a hooker who he has slowly become more and more attached to. There is an accident at the start of the movie in which a co worker is maimed because of Christian Bales negligence. This sets off the mystery in which Christian Bale tries to figure out who the mysterious character is who distracted him at work and also who keeps leaving him mysterious notes in his apartment.

This is probably the best performance I've seen from Christian Bale so far and for that you should definitely watch this film. It was quite difficult to figure out the ending so as a mystery film it definitely succeeded.

However there just feels like something is off to this film. It might be that none of the other performances from the other characters really shined. Also the music at times was a bit overwhelming and was probably too much of a distraction. A lot of the film felt eerie but not in the ways in which it should have. Also some of the mystery in the film leaves you quite puzzled and you'd probably have to watch it at least twice to put everything together. Also the production value felt very low budget, making the world slightly unbelievable.

Splitting the main characters interest between two female characters also was a bit disconcerting. At the end of the film you find out why it happens but it leaves you feeling a bit cheated.

It's a great story and Christian Bale is superb but there are just a couple things holding it back from rising above a 7 out of 10.


***½ Jason M  April 15, 2011
Bale puts on another great performance as well as commits to it (considering he went on a diet of fish and water for several weeks, almost to the point of death, to get that skinny). The ending plot twist has been done before (personally, I think to death), but this movie still holds up as a great thriller


** John Cockerton John C April 15, 2011
Christian Bale's dedicated performance alone cannot save this movie from leaping into confusing storytelling and extreme lack of closure.


* Stefanie F April 13, 2011
I couldn't even finish watching this movie, it made me nauseous.


** Ashley B April 13, 2011
A movie that only makes sense in reverse. Everyone seemed to adore this movie but it definitely missed the mark for me. Between the grungy imagery and Bale's skeletal appearance, I was too distracted to be able to concentrate on what could have been a successful plot.


**** Yusuf M April 13, 2011
Dark, thrilling and at times depressing, this is a definite must see suspense film as Bale gives a performance that should have got him nominated for an Oscar. Bale's commitment to the film is very apparent as he looks almost literally like skin and bones through 98% of the film as he portrays a paranoid, delusional, yet sympathetic machinist who is living in a nightmare as he tries to find clues as to why he is in the predicament he is in. With great lighting and music that help the film hit the nerves of the viewers at the right spots at the right time, fans of Bale and the genre will be on the edge of their seats from start to finish as Bale delivers what is arguably the best performance of his career.


***½ Sumit B  April 12, 2011
Christian Bale's devotion and commitment as an actor is clearly visible. The way he's lost his weight is frighting. A story seems like Fincher's "Fight Club" meets Scorsese's "Taxi Driver" but thoroughly entertaining.


 *** Super Reviewer
Shawn E April 12, 2011
A dark twisting mind game that's not so difficult to figure out, but still perks curiosity. The weight Bale lost for the role is impressive but shocking.


****½ Alex A  April 10, 2011
Bale Gives a massively devoted performance in this top notch psychological thriller.


*** Fabrizio F April 10, 2011
A guy sinking into his delusional life and basically loosing his mind with an ending "a la Fightclub". Christian Bale is simply impressive in this role, especially because of the physical transformation he had to go through the play the part.


****½ Tim K  April 8, 2011
Another terrific performance by the man who goes all out for his roles