Let me set the scene for you. It’s Friday afternoon in the office, we’re all eating far too many chocolate biscuits, whilst discussing diets, weight loss and squeezing into occasion dresses. Someone mentions Christian Bale and the extreme weight loss he went through for a movie, the movie that solidified his career, apparently. It’s called The Machinist. I’d never heard of it, and none of my colleagues could tell me anything about it. A quick Google search told me everything I needed to know that I had to watch this movie ASAP.
Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale) is suffering badly from insomnia. He looks awful, he’s losing weight rapidly, and he hasn’t slept in a year. Well, I won’t complain about feeling tired anymore, that’s for sure. Trevor is, quite rightly, starting to question his sanity. Why? You’ll have to watch to find out…
The Machinist starts just as mysteriously as it means to go on. In the dead of night, a beaten-up Trevor attempts to dispose of what seems to be a dead body, wrapped up inside of a rug. Someone approaches him with a light, and asks, ‘who are you?’. From there, the movie moves at a relatively slow pace, but builds up a horrendously long list of questions that end up swimming around your brain.
I’m not familiar with the lineup of award nominees for that year, but they must have been amazing for Christian Bale not to have featured in them. His dedication to losing all that weight is worth noting alone, but this is the best I’ve ever seen him, and I’ve always enjoyed his performances. You can’t help bet feel desperately sorry for Trevor, but he gives off an unsettling feeling at the same time. How on earth he went from this state to bulking up for Batman I’ll never know!
I got right up to the point where my head wanted to burst open from all the unanswered questions, and then the movie started unravelling itself and everything fell into place, slowly at first, but the last twenty minutes or so were brilliant. It’s hard to say any more than that because I don’t want to give away spoilers, but I think a second viewing would be really helpful to see just where all the clues were. Some were given so early on I was kicking myself for not picking up on them. Then again, that’s why I love this genre so much. I get so sucked into the story I never see the reveal or the twist coming.
I’ve mentioned this movie to a few people now, and it’s a shame that it seems to be known as ‘the one where Christian Bale is really skinny’. It’s so much more than that! It doesn’t top Memento for me as my favourite Mystery/Thriller, but it certainly comes close.