Paramount Home Entertainment
Date: June 7, 2005
Review posted: June 8, 2005
Gregory L. Amato
"How do you wake up from
a nightmare if youíre not asleep?" goes the filmís tagline. Trevor
Reznick (Christian Bale) is a machinist who says he hasnít slept in a
year, though he canít explain why. Pale and thin, his insomnia has
obviously taken a huge toll on him both physically and
psychologically. His only respite is the affection of a prostitute
named Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and the sympathy of his regular
waitress, Marie (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon) but that isnít nearly enough as
he comes more and more unraveled in the face of mysterious notes left
in his apartment, a coworker who no one else believes exists, and the
paranoia of believing that people are conspiring against him.
Early shots of Trevor in
the film show a man so emaciated that he should be barely able to
function. Bale lost 63 pounds in order to play this part, which was
described as a "walking skeleton" in the original screenplay, and both
he and Leigh play their parts convincingly, yet with an air of frail
humanness that itís hard not to empathize with them.
Itís easy to see some things coming in The
Machinist, and less so for others. Dualities of characters (e.g.,
Stevie the prostitute and Marie the wholesome waitress) and of choices
are very important here, as they set the tone of the plot and
ultimately its conclusion.
But in the end itís not necessary to watch for
every little example of foreshadowing or subtlety. We want to know
why Trevor canít sleep, who his mysterious coworker is, and what the
notes he finds mean. Is there really a conspiracy against him, or is
he just going mad? Trevorís social isolation adds to the surreal
quality of the film, and we have to suspect that at least some of what
weíre seeing is not actually happening.
This mystery is what
drives the story, and one that weíre immediately pulled into after wee
see Trevor transporting a body at the beginning of the film (which is
then built up to later on). If the hook in the beginning of the movie
doesnít get you, the wonder of what would turn a regular, blue-collar
guy into starving shade of his former self will.
is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Pale, washed-out tones
alternate with shadowy scenes that have very little light at all, but
the video is clear and compliments the tone of the film nicely.
is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound.
Anderson has done a good job of keeping the soundtrack in the
background while using it to enhancement moments in the film, and the
dialog is clear.
commentary by director Brad Anderson is very good for such a
complex film. Little things are explained and the fact that he spends
more time on what he was trying to do with the film rather than
rambling about difficult times they had on the set is a breath of
fresh air. He also gives a bit more insight into the final scene,
which I found confusing in terms of its timing. My one complaint
about the commentary is the fact that
Anderson spoils two other great films (Fight Club and The
Sixth Sense) while referencing them. Iíve already seen both, but
many viewers may not have.
Two of the eight
deleted scenes on the disc also have the option for audio
commentary. None of them are particularly interesting, and their
exclusion is understandable.
Breaking all the Rules
(25:16) details the difficulty of making a movie set in
in the middle of a sweltering Barcelona summer. Thatís right, they
filmed it in Spain. Commentary from several of the actors, Anderson,
and some of the producers (who donít speak English) is interesting,
but mostly itís commentary by screenwriter Scott Kossar that explains
the filmís overview. He did not intend to write a screenplay that
would sell, he just intended to write something good. Despite the
inability to get funding from the
the project still worked out quite well.
Theatrical Trailer and some other previews are also
included on the disc.
Often billed as
a thriller, The Machinist is very psychological, but it doesnít
have the action or excitement inherent to that genre. Itís easy to
see how it didnít get a tremendous amount of play in American
theaters: The film is unconventional, pessimistic, and melancholy.
That said, itís also a great story that stands up to multiple viewings
and works as both a mystery and a character study.
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