The Machinist

20 Mar

Brad Anderson, the local wunderkind (he now lives in New York) who made a splash with the romantic comedy Next Stop Wonderland, follows up his 2001 psychological thriller,Session 9, with this gripping ordeal about a drill-press operator who hasn’t slept in nearly a year. When we first meet Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale), he’s your typical strung-out Joe: emaciated (Bale lost 63 pounds for the role), disconnected, and running from his past, but just what haunts him is unclear — and that’s the mystery that propels the film. By night, Trevor soaks up his endless existence with a slice of pie at an airport diner, post-coital interchanges with his regular call girl, Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh), and futile attempts to plod through Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot. Then Ivan (John Sharian emulating Marlon Brando), the amoral arc welder/specter with a mangled hand, starts popping upeverywhere and things go sideways. As moody as The Machinist is (the Bernard Herrmann–esque score and pallid, blue texturing go a long way in that regard), the final kick is manipulative artifice and predictable to boot. Nonetheless, Bale’s complete immersion into Trevor’s afflicted soul and Sharin’s southern fried freak make the descent into paranoia worth the journey. (102 minutes)


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