A review of “The Machinist” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: R for violence, bloodshed and nudity

Run Time: 1 hour, 42 minutes

 

 

Trevor Reznik can’t sleep.  Nor can he eat.  His perpetual battle with fatigue and malnourishment has rendered him a walking demon.

Reznik (Christian Bale) is a brooding drill pressman at a machine factory where his chilling appearance has given rise to the rumor that he’s addicted to drugs.  His paranoia is rampant and his questionable lucidity consumed by the nefarious strategies of mysterious strangers who are mounting dangerous conspiracies against him.

As complex mental decay claims Reznik’s “normal” life, he clings to sanity by a thread by keeping company with the lady friends who operate on his periphery; a kindhearted airport coffee-shop waitress (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon) and a grouchy hooker (Jennifer Jason-Leigh) who takes pity on Reznik’s dwindling form.

Mounting dread labors alongside patent indiscretion that’s a bit excessive, its narrative nightmares piling up to the breaking point. Heightened psychological tension and the slick blue-grey look do little to negate the sheer horror of Bale’s appearance; the fit actor lost 63 lbs. for the role and his gruesome form is a relentless and painful reminder of concentration camp terrors and famine relief operations.

Climax pulls the atmospheric fragments together in a delicious twist, fraught with a sense of relief that the lurid ride is finally over.