The Machinist

For the first ten minutes or so I found it hard to see past Christian Bale’s radical physical transformation into a horrifyingly emaciated stick figure. I had heard about him losing an enormous amount of weight for this role, but I didn’t realize just how far he had gone.

In the film, he plays Trevor Reznik, a factory machinist who is losing his mind. This is the cause of his weight loss. He hasn’t slept in a year, and has developed obsessive-compulsive cleaning behaviours. At work, his concentration is shot, and he is starting to see things. Or is he?

The story follows Reznik as he struggles to come to terms with a reality that is fragmenting around him, and lies squarely in the territory covered before by films like Jacob’s Ladder, Memento and Fight Club. It deals with the layers of (un)reality in a much more “arty” way, though: the direction and cinematography is beautifully sparse, but quite self-consciously so. The twist at the end is predictable, but still satisfying. It’s a movie for the mind, rather than for the heart.