Brad Anderson's THE MACHINIST is a Kafkaesque tale about a psychotic and
paranoid anorexic who works the aptly named graveyard shift on dangerous, old
machine tools. At 6' 2" and weighing 121 pounds, Christian Bale, as the
eponymous Trevor Reznik, looks like a concentration camp survivor. Having lost
a third of his body weight for the part, Bale provides us with images that we
won't soon forget. Scott Kosar's script, however, is never nearly as good as
the film's indelible images.
As the story opens, Trevor is busy trying to dispose of a dead body. Trevor is
an obsessive guy who uses bleach and lye to wash his hands and who plasters his
bathroom wall with Post-its to track his rapidly falling body weight.
Unable to sleep at all for the past year, Trevor's only solace comes from a
prostitute named Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and a waitress named Marie
(Aitana Sánchez-Gijón). Marie works at a coffee shop at the airport, where
Trevor goes every night for a piece of apple pie and a cup of coffee, always
leaving an extremely large tip. On his one date with Marie, he takes her and
her son to an amusement park. One of the movie's many memorable visuals occurs
during a horror ride called Route 666, which proves too much for the little boy
to take. Suffice it to say that you aren't likely to see such an attraction at
Disneyland anytime soon.
In an insightful and repeated line, both Stevie and Marie tell Trevor, "If you
were any thinner, you wouldn't exist." After setting up the plot, the movie
drifts for a long time until it ends very well. The story, which keeps getting
more and more confusing, is finally explained as lucidly as such a nightmarish
tale can be explained. It may not be a fun film, but I challenge you to be
able to forget it.
THE MACHINIST runs a little long at 1:40. It is rated R for "violence and
disturbing images, sexuality and language" and would be acceptable for older
Copyright © 2004 Steve Rhodes