(2004) dir. Brad Anderson
Christian Bale pretty much sets the bar here for freakish weight-loss to manipulate his body for the role of the titular “Machinist”. He dropped over 60 pounds to 120 pounds or so, taking his typically lean and muscular Adonis-like build down to a corpse-like concentration camp skeletal remain. It’s profoundly shocking to see his hollow eyes and cheeks, his jutting ribcage and bumpy spinal column. I have said it a lot in other recent entries, he does intensity quite well, and this may be his most creepy role.
The film explores insanity, paranoia, schizophrenia, and an almost living-dead world, bleaker and scarier than almost any others that I can think of. Actually, there is some Polanski here.
Jennifer Jason Leigh is good, too, in a not so significant role as Bale’s prostitute friend. I guess that the only thing that put me off was the outright biblical nature of the morality in the film. On one hand, Bale has Stevie, his prostitute (whore), and he has the cafe worker, Marie, who is the pure Madonna. His choices, from an explicit fun house ride, lead him constantly down the “left”, the evil, to hell.
I don’t want to give away the ending, because I actually thought that this film was pretty interesting and creepy and depressing in a truly evocative way. Films don’t often make any emotional impression on me, but this one did. Perhaps through its tone and growing delusional perspective.
Bale is great. But it would be good to see him do something pretty different for a change. Haunted is his keyword.