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Written by Funn Lim


 

"I am just thankful that I didn't have to see him (Christian Bale) baring his bottom. I don't think I could take it because there were times I was in total disbelief that one could still function whilst being so painfully thin."








AKA
El Maquinista

I wonder why a Spanish title? I read in imdb.com the origin of this movie was Spain. Was the writer or the director Spanish?

Released In
2004

Language
English

Cast-Character
Christian Bale .... Trevor Reznik
Jennifer Jason Leigh .... Stevie
Aitana Sánchez-Gijón .... Marie
John Sharian .... Ivan
Michael Ironside .... Miller
Larry Gilliard Jr. .... Jackson (as Larry Gilliard)
Reg E. Cathey .... Jones
Anna Massey .... Mrs. Shrike
Matthew Romero Moore .... Nicholas
Robert Long .... Supervisor Furman
Colin Stinton .... Inspector Rogers
Craig Stevenson .... Tucker
Ferran Lahoz .... Gonzales
Jeremy Xidu .... Evangelisti
Norman Bell .... DMV Clerk

Comments
I can basically summarise the premise of this story into one word; remorse.

Remorse is probably the most effective and yet most damaging feeling one can have and Trevor Reznik is an example what remorse can do to his physical health. Due to his deteriorating physical health, he then suffered a mental breakdown. What is the remorse and what caused it is of course for you to discover because I think revealing it will encourage you not to watch this intriguing and engaging movie.

The premise is very easily figured out. There are many signs and indications and less than half way I kinda figured out one key character isn't real but I didn't figure out many characters and circumstances in this movie are also intelligently placed in this movie to lend credibility to the premise that perhaps Trevor is really losing his mind, more so when post it notes seems to appear out of nowhere, one in particular that was incomplete. Trevor of course completed it in the end and that is perhaps his subconcious mind telling Trevor his deserved punishment.

Looking at him I don't quite doubt that he was indeed losing his mind. He is after all literally a skeleton of a man, with skin to wrap around his bones but not much flesh. The movie said he is 121 pounds at the start of this movie but looking at his POW look, I would think 100 pounds is more like it. There are several scenes where you can see this character half naked, with all the protruding bones. There are some times he even joked about it and he himself knew he was getting way too thin. Like the prostitute he loves to confess his inner deepest thoughts to said; "If you were any thinner, you wouldn't exist.". The entire movie is shocking from the first frame and I was immediately intrigued as to what caused him to be as such. More shocking was of course towards the end you will get to see his healthier self before he became quite simply skin and bones and that to me was an eye opener. Like I said, remorse caused him to be as such but like Trevor we need to discover what caused the guilt because he himself blocked it out and he thought his colleagues were after him. In the end paranoia probably caused by the fact that he has not sleep once for 1 whole year got hold of him. The ending where he finally discovered the truth and gave himself up wishing only to get some sleep was to me a perfect end for this very strangely entertaining movie. One must ease our conscience before we are allowed to function as a normal human being I guess and that is what makes this movie very interesting even if a tad predictable.

All kudos must be given to Christian Bale who made the ultimate sacrifice, by seriously damaging his body. I am sure he must still be feeling the ill effects of a crash diet. I read the review by renowned reviewer, Roger Ebert who emphasised on the fact that Christian Bale lost more than 60 pounds for this movie and he emphasised that not because of the weight lost but because that man you see on the screen, that unrecognisable man is indeed Christian Bale. And I too emphasise this here in my review. It is hard to believe right after this movie he gained all his weight back to star in Batman Begins. I once feared for Jang Dong Gun when he went on a massive weight loss, about 80 pounds I think to play Pirate Sinn in Typhoon but he didn't look this thin. But looking at Christian Bale, he gives new definition to dedicated actor. I can't explain his obsession with perfecting his art other than the fact that he must be one dedicated actor. No CGI could have achieved that result and thankfully no CGI was needed because one must feel Trevor is real, skin and bones to feel curious why he became such a wreck. And when I saw the healthy handsome Christian Bale towards the end, it was all the more effective. There are also various moments in this movie that kinda gives clues as to who Trevor was before he became this Trevor. I have a feeling he must have been young, confident, flamboyant and at times reckless but because he in the end became as such due to his conscience, he is nevertheless still a good man. I am just surprised this movie didn't get much mention and his performance alone, not really his weight look but his performance is worth a look. He gives life to the wretched Trevor and in the end I ended up pitying him and cheering that for the sake of his own physical health, he owned up to what he did. Of course maybe this movie didn't mean for the viewers to cheer but it seems to appropriate to do so.

Jennifer Jason Leigh was more of a supporting cast. With or without her, this movie will still work because this movie is all about Trevor and no one else. However kudos to her too for not wincing everytime she ran her fingers over the bony chest of Christian Bale.

There are however moments in this movie that made me wonder whether he really did what he did or just imagined it. None of these were ever explained. Like whether he did go to the amusement park? Did he deliberately go to the airport's cafe every night at 1.30am sharp or was that his imagination, that it was not really 1.30am? Did the guilt erased the memory which is replaced by something worse; remorse which is actually a branch of guilt? This movie never explained but really, didn't have to. There was also a moment I thought this movie could turn out into a slasher movie but thankfully it is deeper than that.

I have no doubt if such a man exists and he were to stand trial, I doubt the sentence will be heavy. After all, he really did forget and really felt such remorse. Look at him and that is enough. His physical being is itself punishment enough.

You must watch this movie uninterrupted and without a break to fully appreciate the impact of the story. I have given some major spoilers but nothing beats watching Christian Bale looking starved and how he went about interpreting the complexities of Trevor Reznik by first and foremost looking like how Trevor would look like. This to me is the definition of a very dedicated actor and it really helps that his dedication is backed up by the very fact that this is one fine actor. I am just thankful that I didn't have to see him baring his bottom. I don't think I could take it because there were times I was in total disbelief that one could still function whilst being so painfully thin.

Verdict
A must watch.

Interesting Title
The Machinist in here refers to Trevor's job operating a machine thus the machinist. Nothing to do with what happened and why.

For more trivia, go to imdb.com.

Some Pictures
Taken from Rottentomatoes

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