Preview by: Jack Foley
ONE of the most popular films of the recent Raindance Film Festival
2004 was undoubtedly The Machinist, the much talked about psychological
thriller, starring Christian Bale.
The film, directed by Brad Anderson and written by Scott Kosar,
finds Bale as Trevor Reznik, a man who hasn't slept in a year,
who is unable to eat, and who is tormented by visions that may
or may not have some basis in reality.
The torment in question seems to stem back to an accident in
the machine shop he works, in which a co-worker lost an arm.
Yet, it has meant that his colleagues have ostracized him, leaving
Reznik to find solace in Jennifer Jason Leigh's call-girl and
Aitana Sánchez-Gijón's airport waitress, who attempts
to feed him.
The ensuing psychological thriller has been mostly well-received
in America, since its debut at the Sundance Film Festival, where
it was acquired by Paramount Classics.
The biggest talking point, however, is Bale's decision to lose
over 60 pounds for the role – which represents a third of
his normal body weight.
The star of the upcoming Batman
Begins movie, as well as Captain
Corelli's Mandolin and American Psycho, went from about 180
to 120 pounds to look right for the part - which has deservedly
won the Brit much acclaim.
In an interview with About.com, the star talks extensively about
his preparation for the role, stating that he lost track of how
little he was eating.
"I just kept on seeing how far I could go without eating,"
"But you have to try to find some kind of pattern because
otherwise, if you just starve yourself for a while, then you really
get cravings to just binge and so you go and binge and it just
doesn’t really work.
"So I just gradually said to
myself, 'Okay, no eating before 12' and then 'no eating after
six in the evening'.
"Then gradually cut down on the things that I was eating.
And eventually, I think it also helped a great deal once I was
actually over in Spain and occupied mentally with the movie, that
that took up much of my time.
"I was always somebody who kind of would forget to eat during
the day. Just if I was busy doing something, I’d suddenly
realize I’ve got a funny feeling in my stomach. Oh, Christ,
I haven’t eaten. So I just tried to rekindle that and try
to get nutrition through other means. Go read a book instead of
eat when I started feeling hungry."
Needless to say, Bale confessed to scoffing his face once filming
had finished and has got himself back in shape for the Batman
movie, which looks set to become one of next year's biggest movies.
The Machinist hasn't been reviewed in many places in America
so far, but those who have seen it generally found something positive
Variety, for instance, said that 'Pic's integrity
is clinched by Bale, whose haunted, aggressive and finally wrenching
performance gives The Machinist a strong anchor'.
While Planet Sick-Boy stated that it is 'worth
a look just to see the frighteningly thin Bale, and some nice
washed-out photography from Xavi Giménez'.
EFilmcritic.com, meanwhile, wrote that 'The
Machinist manages to forge something fresh and unique while clearly
showcasing some affection for the film noirs and the twilight
zones that came before'.
While Film Threat stated that it's 'so brave
and visually impressive, it should demand an audience'.
And Film Journal International concluded that
'Anderson builds up suspense quite brilliantly, using a deliberate
pace that draws the viewer into Trevor's strange world'.