( Max score: 100 )
Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale) hasn't slept in a year. The shocking deterioration of his physical and mental health has made his every waking moment an unrelenting state of confusion, paranoia, guilt, anxiety and terror. His only solace from this living nightmare comes from an affectionate prostitute (Jennifer Jason Leigh). When cryptic notes turn up mysteriously in his apartment and when hallucinations of a co-worker that no one else sees causes a gruesome machine shop injury, he embarks on a journey to find out whether there is an elaborate plot to drive him mad or his fatigue has simply robbed him of reason. The more he learns, the less he wants to know.
Trevor Reznik (Bale) is a loner who works as a machinist in a local shop. He lives in a rundown apartment, drives a beat up Dodge pickup, and has an unusually close relationship with a prostitute. According to Trevor he hasn’t slept in a year and his weight is at 123 pounds and dropping. His relationship with his co-workers has deteriorated and he no longer spends time with them outside of work. His boss is concerned that he may be using drugs and his foreman has it in for him. Trevor’s behavior is growing increasingly more erratic to those around him. He seems to be suffering from paranoid delusions, compulsive behavior, and lack of focus. In celebration of mother’s day he is invited to the amusement park with Marie (the diner waitress) and her son Nicholas. The day goes along pleasantly until Nicholas has a seizure while he and Trevor are on a strange haunted house ride called the Route 666. Trevor meets a guy by the name of Ivan in the parking lot at work. Ivan claims to be a fill in for Reynolds, who has been picked up by the feds, however when Trevor mentions him to others no one has ever seen or heard of Ivan. Trevor has noticed that someone has been leaving post it notes on the refrigerator in his apartment. The notes depict the hangman game with a partial message. Each time a note is left another letter is filled in along with more of the hangman. After Trevor’s involvement in an accident at work that leaves a co-worker maimed he begins to feel as though things that are happening to him may be in retaliation. Trevor’s paranoia begins to border on obsession. He finds comfort and peace when he is with Stevie (Jennifer Jason-Leigh), a local prostitute who genuinely seems to care for Trevor. Things begin to escalate as the line between reality and hallucination begin to blur. Trevor’s unstable mental/physical state has left him unable to discern who he can trust and in a sleep deprived fog that makes him a danger to himself and those around him. Trevor begins to realize that all is not what it appears to be and self reflection may hold the key to open the door to salvation.
Prior to this review I had never seen The machinist. This is a rather bizarre but intelligent film about self examination, symbolism and the power of the human mind. I am not sure how I would categorize it but I think it is more of a psychological thriller than anything else. Christian Bale’s physical appearance in this movie is truly disturbing to see. I can appreciate being dedicated to your craft but certainly not to the extent of abusing your body. I have to believe that losing that much weight had to take a serious toll on him. He gave a terrific performance. I love the film’s use of varying degrees of stimuli to deliver the truth about what was happening to Trevor. This ranged from practically being in your face to subliminal messages. I missed quite a few early on but picked up on several in the second and third acts. Early on the film frustrated me because I had no idea where it was going. Once it begins to reveal its purpose the payoff is very good in that you can now see all of the symbolism and clues that were there throughout. They were cleverly masked and fit together like pieces of a puzzle. I thought it was well done.
The rating is for violence, disturbing images, sexuality, brief nudity and language.
The Machinist comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 35 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 2.2 mbps.
This is a stylized video presentation that seems to accurately reflect the director’s intention. The use of lighting and filters leaves colors appearing muted and lifeless. Shades of gray, blue and sepia tones dominate the palette. Fleshtones appear similarly devoid of tonal separation and have a flat near lifeless quality that matches the film’s other elements. The almost monochromatic look actually works well within the dreary tone of the story’s elements. Fluctuations in the film’s look and feel can be scene dependent but any difference is rarely dramatic save for chapter 10 when Trevor visits Miller at his house. As Trevor pulls up at the house Miller is trimming the hedges. Contrast is noticeably boosted as the scene is bathed in bright white with subtle use of color to break it up. It actually looks pretty cool. Blacks are deep albeit slightly crushed and shadow delineation is good but the best that I have seen. Details are sharp and definition is crisp but the film’s visual style doesn’t lend itself to high gloss, definitively resolute imagery. Grain is naturally preserved and remains consistent throughout the course of the presentation.
This is essentially a dialogue driven film however there are aspects of the presentation that make effective use of the rear channels to expand the soundstage. Dialogue is crystal clear with discerning vocal description and refined texture. The mix relies heavily upon the front three channels. Separation, imaging and directional spacing are excellent as the mix of dialogue, music and recorded sounds are clearly articulated. The strings, chimes, timpani and harp in the orchestrated Twilight Zone style music score sounds airy, detailed and appropriately creepy as it is spread out over the entire soundstage. The LFE channel is used primarily for subtle impact and for upper bass frequencies associated with the film’s music. This is not the kind of track that is designed to be boisterous but it worked well with the source material and sounded fine.
The machinist is a strange but engaging psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until its true purpose is finally revealed. Scott Kosar’s screenplay is intelligently written and Director Brad Anderson maximizes its deliberate use of symbolism and effigy to lure you into seeing the world from Trevor’s twisted perspective. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount featuring good audio/video quality and a limited but informative set of bonus supplements. Recommended for fans.