Christian Bale as Trevor Reznik

John Sharian as Ivan

MIchael Ironside (L) as Miller

Directed by Brad Anderson

Written by Scott Kosar

The last time I watched The Machinist was maybe three years ago, give or take a month or two. I know that it was before I started blogging; I started blogging two years ago in late November. I also know that if I had watched it and tried to blog on it back then it would have been a completely chaotic review because I would have no idea what to say. The trouble with that last sentence is that now that I’ve re-watched the film I still don’t know what to say about it. How do I describe this movie without giving away plot points and littering it with spoilers? I can’t. I’m not going to. The Machinist is too good a movie than to suffer it the indignity of my giving away every detail and having you, reader, say “Oh, well there you go. No need to see it now.” I will tell you what I can and nothing more; this film deserves viewing, perhaps even multiple times.

Trevor Reznick (Christian Bale, American Psycho, and The Dark Knight Rises) hasn’t slept in over a year. His body is so thin that he calls to mind the photographs taken of the prisoners at Auschwitz during World War II. His eyes are haunted; his ribs and backbone stick out through skin that resembles tissue paper. He works as a machinist. He meets a mysterious fellow named Ivan (John Sharian, Saving Private Ryan), a jovial, grinning fat man in sunglasses and cowboy boots who seems to know more about Trevor than he knows about himself. The only friends Trevor seems to have is a waitress named Marie (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, A Walk in the Clouds) and her son; and a prostitute, Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh, Road to Perdition, Fast Times at Ridgemont High), for whom he goes for sex and comfort. After a horrible accident at the shop where he works, Trevor’s life begins to take a downward spiral; as what we think is paranoia by proxy of his insomnia begins to sink in on him. Who is Ivan? Why is Trevor so drawn to Marie? Why does he find a Post-it note of a game of hangman on his refrigerator with the head and the body drawn in and the clue _ _ _ _ e r filled in? There’s not much more I can tell you than that.

The Machinist is directed by Brad Anderson. Anderson is also the director of Session 9, another film that requires repeat viewing and that suffers when third parties attempt to explain it away. Anderson seems to have an immense talent for making films that requires a bit of thought on the part of the audience. Unfortunately that talent is sorely lacking in the resumes of the majority of today’s filmmakers.

Christian Bale is one of the most dedicated and reliable actors working today. A person only has to look as far as The Machinist to understand that. Jennifer Jason Leigh is delicious in the role of Stevie, the call girl. I find it hard to believe that she’s over 50. John Sharian is all oily charm in the role of Ivan and Michael Ironside is good in a small role as a co-worker of Trevor’s.

Watch The Machinist. It’s too good film to pass up.


The producers of the film claim that Christian Bale dropped from about 173 pounds in weight down to about 110 pounds in weight to make this film. They also claim that Bale actually wanted to drop down to 100 pounds, but that they would not let him go below 120 out of fear that his health could be in too much danger if he did. His diet consisted of one can of tuna and an apple per day. His 63-pound weight loss is said to be a record for any actor for a movie role. He regained the weight in time for his role in Batman Begins.

Trevor’s landlady is named Mrs. Shrike. This is a reference to Nathanael West’s novella “Miss Lonelyhearts” in which the main character suffers a spiritual dilemma and is antagonized demonically by Shrike, his editor.

The time of 1:30 AM is significant throughout the movie. Trevor often notices something out of the ordinary at this time. During the 1 hour 30 minute mark in the movie, the major plot twist is revealed.



11 thoughts on “THE MACHINIST

  1. I clearly need to revisit this – I watched it a long, long time ago in a universe far, far away and I don’t remember much about it other than not enjoying it BUT that was before I really got into cinema and movies so a revisit seems worthwhile.

  2. Nice review and I agree with the rating. Bale’s appearance in the film is shocking and I for one had a difficult time believing it was him.

  3. Great write up John. I loved this movie, been a while since its last watch so really should rectify that. Bale goes to amazing lengths here, scary to look at him like that.

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