The Machinist: Nicolas Geller
EW Staff
August 11, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Machinist

Current Status
In Season
102 minutes
Limited Release Date
Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Ironside, John Sharian
Brad Anderson
Paramount Classics
Scott Kosar
Mystery and Thriller, Drama

We gave it a C-

There’s committing to a role, and then there’s committing to a role. To play tormented, sleep-deprived factory worker Trevor Reznik, Christian Bale — normally 6’2”, 180 pounds — got down to a ghastly 120 pounds. ”I just didn’t eat,” says the actor, who completed the transformation by sleeping as little as two hours a night. ”It becomes easier as your stomach shrinks. You break every [action] down to what is essential because you just do not have the energy to do anything that isn’t.”

Described by director Brad Anderson as a ”paranoid psychological thriller” about ”a guy battling his guilty conscience,” ”The Machinist,” which debuted at this year’s Sundance festival, takes place in a dark, decaying metropolis that echoes Trevor’s horrific mental and physical state. ”We tried to create an unidentifiable West Coast city,” says Anderson, whose previous effort, 2001’s insane-asylum thriller ”Session 9,” was also an exercise in creepiness. ”So the film has this weird, timeless, placeless quality to it.” (Ironically, for financial reasons, the $5 million movie was shot in the dead of summer in sun-drenched Barcelona.)

Long since back to his normal eating and sleeping patterns — not to mention his buff ”Batman Begins” bod — Bale is thrilled with the end result. It’s a ”very atmospheric and mesmerizing movie,” he says. ”And I’m so proud. There were absolutely no concessions made for the sake of a wider audience. We made the movie we all wanted to make.”

WHAT’S AT STAKE Anderson’s been on the verge of crossing over from cult-indieville since 1998’s ”Next Stop Wonderland.” But without that ”wider audience,” ”The Machinist” may not be his ticket.

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