Pin It

DVD Review 

The Machinist

by Luke Baumgarten

Right before he took up Batman's cape and cowl to restart the franchise, Christian Bale had to lose a lot of weight for his role in The Machinist. Giddy press releases report that he lost 63 pounds over a period of months, living on cigarettes and Dostoyevsky. Whatever that means.

Bale has demonstrated the willingness to sacrifice star power to create deep characters in American Psycho and as Bruce Wayne, but he took that drive to an absurd level here. Seemingly more than just masochism or showmanship, you can tell those months of Russian morality and nicotine gave Bale plenty of angst to stew in.

At some point, he figured out how to turn a hopelessly thin, impossibly sleep-deprived obsessive-compulsive -- haunted by personal demons that might be real or imaginary -- into a character relatively normal people can relate to.

In doing so, he also saved The Machinist from running the tired course of most psychological thrillers. Aren't they all about figuring out if your personal demons are real or imagined?

The key, I think, is the breadth of emotion he reaches, which is vast and painfully tangible. At work and most other places, Bale's Reznik is overcome with paranoia, as though his past is a cauldron always about to bubble over. His emaciated features are confused, accusatory and unbelievably expressive.

As he makes his way through safe, superficial small talk and cornball jokes with a waitress he barely knows, Bale's eyes are watery but sharp. He's soaking up the attention he gets, rejoicing in the ease of human contact without context.

Later, as we realize that these coffee trips are more significant than they seem, Bale's starvation and brooding pays off, as he ties together all the ends of a fairly loose screenplay with the brute force of his emotion.

Watching Christian Bale in The Machinist proves one schoolyard truth -- at least in the case of paranoid, OCD chain smokers so preoccupied with their own inner lives that they starve themselves, alienate everyone around them and go nearly insane: It takes one to know one.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Age of Zaycon
  • Age of Zaycon

    Spokane Valley's Zaycon Fresh found a way to make millions selling meat — and now it's trying to make a lot more
    • Aug 26, 2015
  • Hazy Days of Summer
  • Hazy Days of Summer

    Smoke blankets the region; plus, Patty Murray on the proposed Iran deal
    • Aug 26, 2015
  • Brick by Brick
  • Brick by Brick

    Development continues in downtown Spokane; here are some construction projects that could change the city's urban core
    • Aug 26, 2015
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun
Saving Seeds: A Seed Library Event

Saving Seeds: A Seed Library Event @ Hillyard Library

Tue., Sept. 1, 6:30 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Manufacturing Fear

    Spokane's Republican sheriff says members of his own party are dangerously dividing people
    • Aug 12, 2015
  • 'Flip of a Coin'

    A Spokane Valley deputy trained to spot stoned and drunk drivers is wrong nearly as often as he is right, blood tests from drivers show
    • Aug 19, 2015
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment




Publisher's Note


© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation