The Grumpiest Monkey Gets Skinny With “The Machinist”

It’s movie day at Grumpy Monkey Manor. Nothing quite wraps up a peaceful, sunny and mild Labor Day Weekend like a grim and gritty suspense drama starring a super-emaciated Christian Bale.

The Machinist (2004)
Directed by Brad Anderson
Starring Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Ironside

Bale plays Trevor Resnick, an insomniac machine operator who is rapidly losing weight and living in an uncertain sleepless haze. When bad things start to happen, Resnick starts to question his version of reality.

It may be that Resnick is being menaced by Ivan, an aggressively bald southerner who works at the same machine plant.

It may be that Resnick is being set up by his coworkers after an unfortunate industrial accident leaves someone without an arm.

It may be that the psychotic ex-boyfriend of the prostitute he visits on a regular basis is setting him up.

Or it may be that Resnick is losing his mind along with massive amounts of weight.

This movie is perhaps most famous for the transformation that Bale underwent to play the emaciated Resnick. His wieght loss is shaking, haunting and unavoidable.

Bale’s transformation turns what is otherwise a pretty standard thriller ( a splash of “Memento” here, a touch of “Seven” there) into something that is a little more uneasy and unsettling. We know what Christian Bale looks like, and to see him to wan and thin really gets under our skin.

But overall the movie doesn’t quite get there. Director Brad Anderson has made better movies. The plot has some noir-ish twists and turns, but your Monkey would argue that the payoff at the end doesn’t meet the expectations that the film sets.

It’s not bad viewing overall, but nothing that really sticks your ribs. (Sorry but it had to be done).

As always, feel free to decide for yourself.

Your Monkey was going to post the trailer here for you to see, but too much of the film is given away there.

Why do film companies feel compelled to ruin their own product by giving away too many plot points up front?

A discussion for another day, perhaps.

Here is a link to the Rotten Tomatoes page for the Machinist, where you can read reviews from actual critcs.

Me thinks the 75% favorable is a little too generous. Perhaps Bale’s transformation helps to cover up what is an otherwise flimsy film.


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