Ahoy, squirts. Quint here with a review of Brad Anderson's newest flick, THE MACHINIST, starring Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh (yum-yum) and the living, imposing cinema god Michael Ironside. I'm a huge fan of Brad Anderson's work, starting with SESSION 9, a solid atmostpheric horror flick and continuing with HAPPY ACCIDENTS, which I love... I used to have a copy of that movie, but some long haired hippy borrowed it and decided he didn't want to give it back. Oh well... Anyway, I'm very much looking forward to this film. Here's a fairly spoiler-free review to whet your appetites!
Long time listener, first time caller, and I’m happy to finally have a chance to maybe contribute something back to the site that helps me whittle away many dead hours at work. This is my first time for something like this, so hopefully it doesn't suck too bad and maybe it's something you could use. The review is below:
The other night I attended a “pre-screening” of the new Brad Anderson film, “The Machinist” at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. We don’t really seem to get many opportunities like this here in Beantown, at least not that I’m aware of, so needless to say I was pretty excited to get a chance to see the next film from the man that brought us “Session 9,” one of the best horror movies in the past few years. Even before “Session 9,” I was a fan of the other Anderson’s films I’d seen: “Next Stop, Wonderland,” and “Happy Accidents.” I found that through these films that encompass several different genres, he has remained a consistently strong fi! lmmaker, both in writing and directing.
Anyway, enough prelude, and on to the film. I’ll try to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, which means I can’t really tell you all that much.
“The Machinist” stars Christian Bale as Trevor Reznik, a man suffering from an extreme case of insomnia, stating at one point in the movie that he “hasn’t slept in a year.” That’s not the worst of it, however, as he starts to receive mysterious notes in his apartment, and has multiple encounters with a co-worker that no one else can see. After this mysterious co-worker contributes in Trevor causing a catastrophic accident, Trevor starts to spiral downward into a world of paranoia and madness, believing that his coworkers and eventually his paid-for-by-the-hour girlfriend, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, are trying to drive him insane.
There’s little more I can tell you without giving away the twist to the film, because of course there is one. It’s never a question of when, but of what and why, and while there are certain aspects you may be able to figure out while watching, the whole picture doesn’t become clear until the last few minutes. Anderson does a really good job of pacing the doling out of information to keep the audience interested, but never so much so that you should be able to figure out too much before he wants you to. And the movie is constructed so that when you hit the twist, it will add a lot of extra meaning to scenes that had occurred earlier in the film.
The feel of this movie is one of constant bleakness and tension, conveyed not just by the acting and actions of the characters, but also by the washed out look of the film. So much of the color is bled out that at times it almost looks like it’s a black and white film on the screen, which fits very well with a script, (written by Scott Kosar, who has since gone on to pen the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Amityville Horror” remakes), that very much has the feel of Hitchcock or the Twilight Zone.
The acting, for the most part, is solid all around. Bale lost about 60 pounds for his part, sporting a body that makes Calista Flockhart look chubby, and his performance is good as someone who is becoming more and more unhinged by the events going on around him. Jennifer Jason Leigh also stands out in an understated performance. There’s not a whole hell of a lot to her part, but she plays it very well with a strong sense of someone who has been run down by her life. John Sharian, as Ivan (the non-existent??? co-worker) was decent, but honestly, Ivan didn’t seem as menacing to me as he was supposed to have been. Bale’s on-screen relationship with Marie, his coffee-shop waitress, played by Aitana Sannchez-Gijon, is very sweet, and somewhat jarring, considering the nature of the rest of the film. But that dichotomy is also explained by the end.
Overall, it’s not a perfect film--you will be left with a few unanswered questions--but it is very good. I’m not sure how it’ll play out with audiences in general when it gets released (probably sometime in the fall, according to Anderson), because it is pretty bleak and doesn’t have a neatly wrapped happy ending, but I’d definitely recommend it.
If you do use this, you can call me "a.k.a Lamont"