The Machinist directed by Brad Anderson

Released in the UK in 2004, The Machinist (also known as El Maquinista) was directed by Brad Anderson and stars Christian Bale in one of the most committed performances to be seen in cinema.

Bale loses so much weight for the part of Trevor Reznik, more than 4 stones in a matter of months, that his skeletal form is almost too difficult to watch at times.

The film opens with the main protagonist, Reznik, in an extremely disturbed state of mind, seemingly disposing of a body rolled in carpet.

What follows is the back-story to this scene, as we learn that Reznik has suffered from a year of crushing insomnia and dramatic weight loss.

The film ends with us understanding the cause of his initial insomnia and the subsequent development of his paranoid psychosis. MORE HERE and HERE

FULL CAST

Christian Bale as Trevor Reznik - Jennifer Jason Leigh as Stevie - Aitana Sánchez-Gijón as Marie - John Sharian as Ivan - Michael Ironside as Miller - Lawrence Gilliard Jr. as Jackson (as Larry Gilliard) - Reg E. Cathey as Jones - Anna Massey as Mrs. Shrike - Matthew Romero Moore as Nicholas (as Matthew Romero) - Robert Long as Supervisor Furman - Colin Stinton as Inspector Rogers - Craig Stevenson as Tucker - Ferran Lahoz as Gonzales - Jeremy Xido as Evangelisti - Norman Bell as DMV Clerk - Nancy Crane as Waitress - Richard Torrington as Radiologist - Buffy Davis as Marge - Reg Wilson as Bartender - Ramon Camín as Detective - Christopher Hood as Drunk - Marc Aspinall as Inspector Daniels - Guillermo Ayesa as Old Fisherman - Daniel Ceren as Pedestrian - Marta Rubio as Woman in Crowd - Ewan Watson as Man in Crowd - Chike Johnson as Young Policeman -Molly Malcolm as Ticket Agent - Jaume Mimó as Man in Stall - Flora Álvarez as Woman in Stall FULL CREDITS HERE

 

Christian Bale as Trevor Reznik

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Christian Charles Philip Bale (born 30 January 1974) is an English actor. Best known for his roles in American films, Bale has starred in blockbuster films and smaller projects from independent producers and art houses. FULL CAREER HERE

MORE about him: Frequently works with directors Terrence Malick and Christopher Nolan - Often stars in period films or plays historical figures - Chameleon-like changes of appearance for different roles - Fluent American accent - Is an excellent horseman and an avid reader - A devoted animal lover, Christian has two dogs [Mojo and Ramone] and three cats [Miriam, Molly, and Lilly] - His first on-screen role was in 1983 at age 9 in a British commercial for Pac-Man cereal - C.Bale and wife belong to Board of Trustees in The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International - Is an avid fan of video games and cites Super Mario as one of his all-time favorites growing up MORE HERE

 

Jennifer Jason Leigh as Stevie

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Jennifer Jason Leigh (born February 5, 1962) is an American film and stage actress, best known for her roles in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Hudsucker Proxy, Single White Female, Last Exit to Brooklyn, Georgia and Short Cuts. She is also the co-writer and co-director of the film The Anniversary Party, made with fellow actor Alan Cumming. Leigh is known for her emotionally raw and often sexually explicit portrayals of vulnerable and damaged women, and for her intensive method inspired research into her roles. MORE HERE

MORE about her: Daughter of actor Vic Morrow and actress-screenwriter Barbara Turner - Selected as one of "America's 10 Most Beautiful Women" by Harper's Bazaar Magazine, 1989 - Had a small part in Eyes Wide Shut (1999). However, when its director Stanley Kubrick asked Jennifer to do some re-shoots, she was not available to do that. Her entire part was redone by another actress - The song "Jennifer Jason Leigh" by the punk band J Church has lyrics made up from interview quotes - MORE HERE

 

Aitana Sánchez-Gijón as Marie

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Aitana Sánchez-Gijón (born 5 November 1968 in Rome, Italy) is a Spanish-Italian film actress. Best known for playing dramatic roles in Spain, Sánchez-Gijón is known in the United States for her portrayal of Victoria Aragon, a pregnant and abandoned Mexican-American winegrower's daughter who is helped by travelling salesman Paul Sutton (Keanu Reeves) in A Walk in the Clouds (1995). She has since built a reputation as an international star in films such as Manuel Gomez Pereira's Boca a Boca (1996), Bigas Luna's The Chambermaid on the Titanic (1997), Jaime Chavarri's Sus Ojos Se Cerraron (1998), Gabriele Salvatores' adaptation of the Niccolò Ammaniti novel I'm not scared (2003) and Brad Anderson's The Machinist (2004). MORE HERE

MORE about her: Goddaughter of Rafael Alberti - Cousin of Pablo Carbonell - Mother is Italian and father is Spanish - Her husband is sculptor and painter - President of the Spanish Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1998 to 2000 - Member of jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 2000 - Has two children with her husband Guillermo Papim Luccadane - a son named Teo Luccadane (b.2001) and a daughter named Bruna Luccadane (b.2004). BIO

 

John Sharian as Ivan

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John Sharian is an American actor whose film credits include The Machinist and Saving Private Ryan and whose television credits include CSI: Miami and Spooks. Sharian graduated from the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in 1991 and began television acting shortly thereafter, appearing in the British sci-fi comedy series Red Dwarf in 1992. Sharian's film career began in 1994 with his role as one of the leads in Death Machine and later in the American movies Lost in Space and Saving Private Ryan. Filmography here

 

Michael Ironside as Miller

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Michael Ironside (born Frederick Reginald Ironside; February 12, 1950) is a Canadian actor. He has also worked as a voice actor, producer, film director, and screenwriter in movie and television series in various Canadian and American productions. He is best known for playing villains and "tough guy" heroes, though he has also portrayed sympathetic characters. FILMOGRAPHY

More about him: Frequently plays a character who loses an arm or both arms (Total Recall, The Machinist, Starship Troopers) - Was for some time attached to play the title role in RoboCop (1987), but the crew had to give up on the idea when they realized that he would have to have a much smaller frame to fit into the costume envisaged - Often plays military commanding men - Huge fan of Professional Wrestling - Lives in Los Angeles, California MORE

Influences

The name Trevor Reznik is derived from Trent Reznor, the founder and primary creative force behind the industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails, and the original script had NIN lyrics on the first page.

Other NIN tributes include the reversed N on the movie poster and early press articles describing Reznik as experiencing a "downward spiral".

"Reznik" ("rezník") means "butcher" in Czech. However, the strongest literary influence is the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

In the DVD commentary, Scott Kosar states that he was influenced by Dostoyevsky's The Double: A Petersburg Poem.

The character Reznik is shown reading Dostoyevsky's The Idiot early in the film. In one scene Trevor falls asleep while reading the book. Two of the characters in that book are Marie and Nicholas.

When Reznik is riding the "Route 666" attraction, one of the faux movie marquees reads Crime and Punishment.

In Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, the character who is visited by a devil is named Ivan. In the 1969 film, Ivan and his devil are played by the same actor (Kirill Lavrov). MORE

Trevor's landlady is named Mrs. Shrike. This is a reference to Nathanael West's novella "Miss Lonelyhearts" in which the main character suffers a spiritual dilemma and is antagonized demonically by Shrike, his editor.

Production

Despite its setting in a West Coast American city, the film was shot in its entirety in and near Barcelona, Spain.

It was produced by the Fantastic Factory label of Filmax and Castelao Productions.

Christian Bale starved himself for over four months prior to filming, as his character needed to look drastically thin. Allegedly, his eating consisted of one cup of black unsweetened coffee and an apple (or a can of tuna) each day (approximately 55-260 calories).

According to the DVD commentary, he lost 28 kilograms (62 lb), reducing his body mass to 54 kilograms (120 lb). Bale wanted to go down to 45 kilograms (99 lb), but the filmmakers would not let him due to health concerns.

He later regained the mass, plus an additional 27 kilograms (60 lb) through weightlifting and proper eating, in preparation for his role in Batman Begins.

Of his wild physical transformation, Christian admitted to IGN, "You do get a lot of nervous energy, I think, putting weight on. Unfortunately, I had to put it on pretty fast and it's not very healthy doing that. That was when I felt bad. I did actually start to feel I was putting my body under too much pressure, because I put on 100 pounds in five months. You get big mood swings, but not such a bad thing when you're playing this darker version of Batman."

Oddly enough, the food he most craved after quitting his starvation diet was apples. How... indulgent? More here

 

Did You Know?

The Machinist's writer, Scott Kossar, loves "Nine Inch Nails" and his original script had a quote from their lyrics on the first page. He always wanted the soundtrack to be written by NIN, but the director didn't want the movie to go in that direction. Nine Inch Nails' only official member is Trent Reznor, thus the name of Christian Bale's Character, Trevor Reznik.

This film contained two actors who have played Batman. Christian Bale played Batman in Batman Begins and Michael Ironside voiced the character of Batman in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series, entitled "Legends of the Dark Knight".

Because of Christian Bale's highly publicized weight loss for The Machinist, he has been compared to the likes of Robert DeNiro in Raging Bull (who gained about 60 pounds) and Charlize Theron for lead role in Monster.

The time of 1:30 AM is significant throughout the movie. Trevor often notices something out of the ordinary at this time. During the 1 hour 30 minute mark in the movie, the major plot twist is revealed.

In the scene where Trevor is driving Marie and Nicholas back home, if you look closely through the driver's side window when Trevor stops, you can see two people sitting in the background. According to Brad Anderson, they were junkies who were actually shooting up heroin during the filming of the scene.

Christian Bale found that his weakened condition caused problems in the more demanding action scenes. He found running a particular problem as he simply had no leg muscles left.

While talking to another character, Christian Bale's character says, "Nobody has ever died from insomnia." The exact same line is said in Fight Club, another film about a man who suffers from terrible insomnia.

Trevor's apartment and that of Marie's seem very similar, with only the furniture and dressings moved around. This is for both practical cost and plot reasons.

When Trevor drives off into the countryside, he's actually driving in the neighboring principality of Andorra.

Ivan's license plate number - 743CRN - is the reverse of Trevor's number - NRC347 (seen at 1:06:36).

There are several fishing and fish references throughout the movie - significant clues about the plot which only become clear later on. These include: the fishing rod in Trevor's cupboard; the fish paintings on his kitchen wall; and the fish mounted in the bar.

Movie Plot Twists, Spoilers and Surprise Ending

Trevor Was Involved in a Deadly Hit-and-Run Accident That Killed a Young Boy A Year Earlier; His Subconscious Was Reminding Him of His Suppressed Guilt Through Distorted Memories and Thoughts; He Turned Himself In This perplexing, suspenseful psychological thriller from Brad Anderson, similar in part to Fight Club (1999) and Memento (2000), told of insomniac drill-press machinist Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale in a distressing, emaciated role that required him to lose over 60 pounds), who hadn't slept for about one year -- the first line of the film hinted at the theme: "Who are you?"

The grim, weakened, zombie-like Trevor went on a quest to discover who he was, what traumatic thing or event caused him to be the way he was, and why things were going from bad to worse. The viewer was trapped within Trevor's mind and point-of-view, so it was difficult to answer lots of the film's questions:

why was he seemingly losing his mind?

why wasn't he sleeping?

why was he paranoid that co-workers and his foreman didn't like him?

why was he so forgetful that he had to write Post-it notes to himself?

what was the meaning of the Hangman game that materialized on his refrigerator, taunting him to discover the 6-letter word?

why did he have an obsession to clean his hands with bleach?

why did he tip the Flyaway Cafe airport diner counter-waitress, beatific single-mother Marie (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón) so much - and always at 1:30 am?

was it a fantasy trip on Mothers Day to a fairground with Marie when he took her epileptic son Nicholas (Matthew Romero) on a Route 666 thrill-ride?

what about his short idyllic romance-date with Marie?

why was he also so generous with sweet, sympathetic and vulnerable hooker Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh), her flesh quite a contrast to his bony frame?

who was the enigmatic, stocky, and bald co-worker named Ivan (John Sharian) who drove around in a red 1959 Pontiac Firebird - was Ivan a delusion?

who was standing next to co-worker Reynolds (James DePaul) in the fishing picture?

All the clues to his problems and questions were eventually unraveled and summed up in a short flashback in the conclusion at the 1:30 mark, when he finally declared: "I know who you are." All of Trevor's delusions were oblique pieces of his own suppressed memories:

(1) Ivan was an imaginary, hallucinatory friend

(2) Trevor often tailed the Pontiac Firebird driven by Ivan, and when he learned the identity of its owner from the license plate, 7-4-3-C-R-N, he was told that he owned the car himself, although a year earlier, it had been in a wreck

(3) he broke up with Stevie, calling her a lying whore, and falsely believed that her mysterious ex-husband, whom he thought was Ivan, was abusing her and tormenting him

(4) there was no Marie who worked at the diner - it was all in his imagination

(5) Trevor's refrigerator freezer was bleeding because he hadn't paid his utilities bill and the fish-heads inside bled and rotted, along with melted ice cream

(6) Trevor was involved in a hit-run accident at 1:30 pm with his own Pontiac Firebird - he hit and killed Nicholas in a cross-walk at an intersection when he ran a red-light (while lighting his cigarette with the car's cigarette lighter) - a Route 66 medallion swung from his rear-view mirror in front of the smashed windshield

(7) Trevor looked back at the accident scene, before fleeing, and saw Marie rush to the body of her son - but in reality, he never knew Nicholas or Marie

(8) Trevor solved the hangman puzzle, the word was: KILLER, himself Trevor vacated his apartment and turned himself in to the police department by taking the right fork in the highway to downtown: "I'd like to report a hit and run," and was then led to a holding cell where he told the guards: "I just wanna sleep."

The final flashback view was of Trevor driving down the road following the hit-and-run, before fading to white. MORE

Quotes for The Machinist

-Marie: Trevor, is someone chasing you?

Trevor Reznik: Not yet. But they will when they find out who I am.

-Stevie: If you were any thinner, you wouldn't exist.

-Trevor Reznik: Right now I wanna sleep. I just want to sleep. ( all quotes here )

Read Total Film's The Machinist review: ( more here )

With his concave stomach, translucent skin and visible skeleton, Bale looks like a Holocaust survivor just released from Auschwitz. The psychological impact of his appearance cannot be understated, not least because we know this is no special effect. And it makes us all the more fascinated by his character Trevor Reznik, a solitary figure with few friends who likes playing Hangman... with himself.

"Nobody ever died of insomnia," says Trevor, but it looks like he could be the first. And when a colleague (Michael Ironside) loses an arm in an accident he causes, he becomes even more alienated from his machine-shop co-workers. His only friends are tart-with-a-heart Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who provides both physical and mental tendering, and Marie (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón), a sympathetic airport waitress whose companionship seems to offer a hint of salvation.

Shot entirely in Spain, with Barcelona standing in for Anywhereville USA, Brad Anderson's thriller has elements of Lynch, Hitchcock and Kafka in its DNA. (Dostoyevsky too: it's surely no coincidence that Trevor reads The Idiot.) If anything, though, Roman Polanski's The Tenant is the biggest influence. Paranoia is the key to Anderson's bleak, creepy vision, a world in which nothing is what it seems and where Ivan's mysterious, flame-red car comes to symbolise Trevor's ever-increasing dread.

From Roque Baños's eerie, Bernard Hermann-esque score to desaturated colour photography by DoP Xavi Giménez that lends Trevor's world a cold, monochromatic menace, this is intelligent, ingenious filmmaking. And if the Twilight Zone-style ending is perhaps a mite unsatisfying after all that has gone before, the getting there takes some beating.

More Links:

Michael Ironside and the evolution of his missing body parts - Looking back at The Machinist - Interview with Brad Anderson about The Machinist - The Machinist on Tumblr - Making of the movie The Machinist (2004) - Insomnia and Then Emaciation; Now Paranoia Takes Its Turn - Christian Bale talks The Machinist

Other movies on this site: Apocalypto - 300 - REC - High Tension - The Machinist - OldBoy - Mankatha - Stand By Me - Labyrinth -

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