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BY ADAM WAJNBERG
JUNE 16, 2005
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Actors are thin. Or theyre not. I forget. I only
know this because every time I walk past a newsstand, Im assaulted
with pictures of actors who are either too thin, or not thin enough.
Like many cynics, I try my best to turn away from such nonsense, or
to bemoan it. So I wasnt so impressed when Id heard that
actor Christian bale had shed 27 kilos from his otherwise regular
frame for The Machinist. I just figured it was a gimmick to sell an
otherwise mediocre film.
Upon actually seeing the flick, Im feeling conflicted.
Yes, the film is mediocre- steelworker Trevor Reznick hasnt
slept in a year. He meanders in and out of a dreamlike existence,
caught between work, his dingy apartment, a hooker and an airport
coffee shop. A slip up causes grievous injury to a co-worker, and
hes haunted by the incident and by a bizarre man-mountain named
Ivan, who pops up from time to time to grin at him maniacally. Its
terribly atmospheric and it provides good squirms, but it goes nowhere,
and very slowly. But far from being a gimmick, Bales terribly
emaciated form proves the real star of the show.
At 185 cm and 50 kg, he looks like
well, like someone
who hasnt slept in a year. Rezniks physical anguish is
Bales own, and its a real gem of a performance. The supports
are also very good. Jennifer Jason Leigh does her usual sleepy and
vulnerable schtick as Stevie, a prostitute. Aitana Sanchez-Gijon,
star of some foreign films where she probably gets her kit off, turns
in a strong performance as a waitress who takes an almost maternal
interest in Reznick. John Sharian is ugly, weird and effective as
Ivan, who taunts Reznick throughout. The dialogue is sparing but strong,
but theres just not enough here to grab the average viewer.
The film is directed in similar visual tones to the
first Matrix film- think a lot of sickly green, black and pale. And
some vomit. Its evocative, to say the least. Unfortunately,
the pacing and the ending (which comes out of nowhere but isnt
what youd call a twist, exactly) let down the performances.
But if this film provides any indication of Bales intensity,
this winters Batman Begins should be the flick of the year.
The Machinist: 6.5/10
Machine-separated chicken: salty
Deus Ex Machina: fancy schmancy
Mach 3 razors: sharp
THE MACHINIST stars Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason
Leigh, Aitana Sanches-Gijon, John Sharian and Michael Ironside. It's
rated M and runs 102 minutes.