The Machinist (15)

Written by Scott Kosar, Directed by Brad Anderson
Screening at FACT and UGC from 8th-14th April 2005

Reviewed by Adam Ford

Every time I've seen a Christian Bale film, his performance has been much better than the film itself. For example, in American Psycho he played psychopathic stockbroker Patrick Bateman with gleeful relish, whilst everyone else waited to cash their cheques. In Equilibrium, he heroically stood up for art and emotion against a sterile futuristic bureaucracy that didn't quite make sense. For The Machinist, he dropped to a skeletal eight and a half stone to brilliantly portray a factory worker who hasn't slept for a year, but the plot is ridiculously contrived and easy to second guess.

I mean, if someone has trouble sleeping that usually means they have something on their mind, right? And if they haven't slept in a year then it must be a really big thing. They might start losing touch with reality and forget stuff. Now, if this is a film, and this guy has a post-it note on his fridge with a hangman gallows and ’ _ _ _ _ e r’ underneath it, then what could that possibly spell? If you go to see The Machinist then you will have to squirm for one hundred minutes whilst Mr Bale vainly tries his very best to convince you that he really can't work it out. And I haven't given that much away, because this was all in the trailer.

It's such a waste of talent. Not only does the lead actor impress, but the distinctive John Sharian wrings every last drop out of a 'mysterious' man called Ivan, who is possibly the worst excuse for a character I have ever seen. The murky cinematography and gently brooding soundtrack are both perfect for the mood that the director is trying to create, but both the total lack of substance makes it seem like a big budget spoof. I can only hope that Bale and co find the script their talents deserve soon.

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