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The Machinist - Preview & US reaction



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," he explained.

"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.

US reaction

The Machinist hasn't been reviewed in many places in America so far, but those who have seen it generally found something positive to say.

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'.

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