Aneesh Chaganty

Movie #204 The Machinist

In Uncategorized on May 15, 2011 at 5:51 PM

Movie #204 The Machinist

(2004, US, d. Brad Anderson)

There’s a moment early in The Machinist where the Trevor Reznik (a reference to Trent Reznor of ‘Nine Inch Nails’) weighs himself and writes it down on a sheet of paper on which he’s recorded his decreasing weight. He’s gone from 160 to 150 to 140. At the moment the film starts he weighs around 114 pounds. And then you start to wonder: This couldn’t possibly be Christian Bale? Reznik still talks like Bale, moves like Bale, and sort of looks like Bale – but this disgustingly skinny Reznik couldn’t be Bale, could it? That’s the strangest hump of the film to get over and once you do that, it’s actually sort of smooth sailing. All the hype and marketing around The Machinist makes it out to be some sort of unique and trippy experience, one characterized by an overwhelmingly dark tone throughout. I actually found the film to be a lot more traditional that I had thought it would be. With clear midpoints, act breaks, character wants, and even a love story thrown in, Brad Anderson has thrown away either a promising opportunity or salvaged something impossible. I can’t tell which. The film also almost completely relies on its ‘twist’ ending. It never explains anything to us (especially the biggest question: Why the heck is he so skinny?) and relies on visual clues to keep us interested. I tend to not like films like these, but surprisingly it works here. Perhaps, it was Bale’s performance or the environment of the film, because it certainly wasn’t the mystery. The poster for the film and a significant plot-point revolves around Reznik trying to solve a Hangman Puzzle.” _ _ _ _ E R” is what he knows. I solved that in the first 5 seconds of it being introduced, but then after the film spent scene after scene on it, I went back on it thinking it was too easy and too simple. Well, it turned out my original theory was correct. So, if you’re at all good at spotting signs and clues in movies, then don’t expect to be blown away by the ending. It’s how you get there that counts.

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