The Machinist

Director: Brad Anderson
Screenwriters: Scott Alan Kosar

Institute History

  • 2004 Sundance Film Festival


Christian Bale has proven himself one of the most dynamic actors of his generation, repeatedly flooring audiences with sublime transformations into an enviable range of characters. He turns in another jaw-dropping tour de force as a tortured soul on the brink of reality in The Machinist.

Trevor Reznik (Bale) is wasting away. He hasn't slept in a year, which has led to a shocking deterioration of his physical and mental health. His only solace comes from his call-girl girlfriend (Jennifer Jason Leigh) when his world becomes a living nightmare as cryptic notes turn up in his apartment and he has visions of a coworker no one else can see. Are these mysteries part of a plot to drive him mad? Or has fatigue simply robbed him of reason? Determined to find answers, he embarks on a journey of self-awareness—yet the more he learns, the less he wants to know.

Brad Anderson (Happy Accidents; Next Stop, Wonderland) returns to Sundance for the fourth time with an existential horror film that showcases his razor-sharp intelligence. The Machinist is an inspired text on melding performance, sound, and image to convey a bizarre mental state, a stylized combination that rightly evokes comparison to such masters as Polanski and Hitchcock. Anderson adopts a gliding photographic style that perfectly frames subtle clues throughout and poses Bale in an expressive posture, creating a haunting portrait of a man lost in his own past seeking the redemption of truth.

— Trevor Groth

Screening Details

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