A skeletal Christian Bale stars as the haunted, delusional industrial worker Trevor Reznik in The Machinist, a semi-original psychological thriller that opens nationwide Oct. 22. Bale reportedly lost 60 pounds to play the lead role, and his co-star, Jennifer Jason Leigh, looks as if she ate it off him. Leigh plays a chunky, dolled-up prostitute named Stevie, Reznik's sole confidante and companion. Reznik confesses to her that he has barely slept or eaten in over a year, a condition that makes him all the less capable of dealing with the bizarre events that unfold through the course of the movie. One such incident, a gory accident at Reznik's workplace, starts Reznik on his quest to resolve the film's eerie mysteries.

But when the movie concludes, the audience, having learned the answer to Reznik's puzzle, will reflect not only on the film's intriguing resolution, but also on its irrelevancies and absurdities. In retrospect, Jennifer Jason Leigh's role seems entirely extraneous, as does the violent accident that instigates Reznik's quest. The film's absurdities are more immediately apparent. For example, after Reznik admits to his employers that his delusional psychosis caused the aforementioned bloody accident, they allow him to continue to operate heavy machinery -- and keep his job.

The film has its share of interesting scenes and a thoughtful premise, but its shortcomings weigh it down. It's scary, yet too confused to be perfect.


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