This is a review of the 2004 movie The Machinist starring Christian Bale and Jennifer Jason Leigh
Plot Summary: Trevor Reznik is a factory lathe worker who can barely tell whether he exists anymore. He hasn’t slept for a year and he is so thin he is practically disappearing. After a horrific accident at his shop, and finding a series of cryptic notes in his apartment, he begins to believe he’s the center of an evil plot, and races to unravel the mystery.
Me: There are quite a few actors out there who severely altered their normal body weight in order to portray a particular character. Robert DeNiro is probably the most famous instance of this, when he gained 60 pounds to portray boxer Jake La Motta in the 1980 Martin Scorsese classic Raging Bull.
The Honeybee: I heard Matt Damon gained 30 pounds and let his body go flabby for his upcoming movie The Informant.
Me: That’s true, Honeybee. I recently read that Damon actually consulted with DeNiro on the whole process. Hey, how about Renee Zellweger, who gained quite a few pounds for Bridget Jones’s Diary?
The Honeybee: That’s a good one! And going the other direction, Tom Hanks got pretty thin for both Castaway and Philadelphia.
Me: Yes, but if the Academy gave Oscars for weight loss, Hanks would end up losing the award to Christian Bale, who was the lead actor in the low-budget thriller we saw last night, The Machinist. That’s because Bale – who is probably best known for playing Batman in The Dark Knight – reportedly went on a starvation diet that resulted in him losing over 60 pounds for the role.
The Honeybee: Oh my God, he was so thin! His appearance was eerily similar to people I’ve seen in Holocaust photos.
Me: No doubt his appearance really added a visual jolt to this thriller. In The Machinist, Bale plays Trevor Reznik, a guy who is suffering from acute insomnia so bad that he hasn’t slept in a year. The chronic lack of sleep, having completely ravaged his body, soon begins to affect his brain and Reznik has trouble separating illusions from reality.
The Honeybee: Reznik was a strange one, seemingly locked in an odd routine, constantly cleaning himself and his apartment floors with bleach, spending lots of time with a sympathetic hooker played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, and late night runs for pie and coffee at a diner where he loved to chat up a pretty waitress who apparently had the hots for guys with the physique of a telephone pole.
Me: Reznik’s life, though, soon begins to spin out of control after a coworker of his named Ivan, played to maximum-creepiness by John Sharian, distracts him during a shop maintenance procedure. Unfortunately, Reznik’s resulting inattention ends up costing another coworker his arm in a nasty machine press accident.
The Honeybee: That’s when Reznik goes off the deep end, thinking the whole world is out to get him.
Me: Clearly, he was confused and unaware of what was going on around him.
The Honeybee: Well, I can totally sympathize with Reznik because I had absolutely no clue what was going on either.
Me: What? I’m shocked.
The Honeybee: Why are you shocked? Nothing made sense to me until the very end.
Me: Reznik spends most of the movie trying to figure out who is responsible for his life going haywire. Our readers will have to watch the movie because I don’t want to give anything away, but the big mystery really revolves more around why Reznik is being tormented, rather than who it is that’s out to get him.
The Honeybee: Fine, but even after we found out what the big mystery was, there was no real satisfaction – at least not for me. I guess I was expecting a big ending, but it never came – it’s kind of like I was watching this balloon growing bigger and bigger and then just before it was ready to pop, all the air just blurted out the end.
Me: So I guess you’re equating the movie to something similar to a big whoopee cushion?
The Honeybee: That would have been fitting music for the closing credits. How about you?
Me: Clever. Actually, I thought this was a great movie. I’m still kind of haunted by it – and Christian Bale’s performance was truly Oscar worthy in my opinion, although he was never nominated. I say this movie is a definite “buy!”
The Honeybee: Well, I’m glad you liked it. I think The Machinist stunk our living room up – nobody should listen to you. I say “Sell,” ladies and gentlemen. Sell, sell, sell!
Me: Heck, you never listen to me.
The Honeybee: I’m sorry, did you say something?
Me: I think that was the dog.
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