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The Machinist (2004) - Brad Anderson

In search of antipathetic, unpleasant and repulsive protagonists

Related: American cinema - doppelgänger trope - anti-hero - 2004 - unreliable narrator - Dostoevsky

The Machinist (2004) - Brad Anderson [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

I recently got round to viewing the 2004 American film The Machinist. It was a thoroughly unpleasant but at the same time very rewarding viewing experience. The protagonist reminded me of Henry of Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer and of the unnamed protagonist of Dostoyevsky's Notes from Underground (1864). The film in itself reminded me of Amores Perros although I have as of yet no idea why, really. Keywords to tag the film with would be unpleasant, eerie and creepy. If you hold that the primary quality of horror films is that they induce fear, this is definitely a horror film. I hadn't seen my perennial favourite Jennifer Jason Leigh since Jane Campion's 2003 In the Cut and she didn't let me down, but then, she never has since seeing her for the first time twenty years ago in The Hitcher. [Jul 2006]

If you compare The Machinist to other 2004 films, it comes in third place, after The Libertine and Ma Mère, but before Anatomy of Hell My Summer of Love and 9 songs.


The Machinist is a 2004 drama/thriller film, written by Scott Kosar, directed by Brad Anderson and starring Christian Bale.

Trevor Reznik (Bale) has not slept for over a year, and has become extremely emaciated. He does not know what is wrong, and carries on working as a machinist. His alarming appearance and behaviour cause his co-workers to shy away from him; they eventually turn on him after he is involved in an accident that costs a man his left arm. Trevor, distracted by an unfamiliar coworker named Ivan (Sharian), bears the blame for the accident. No one at the factory admits knowing "Ivan", however, and there are no records that he was ever an employee. Trevor seems to find peace only in the arms of Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a prostitute who develops genuine affection for him, or in the company of Marie (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón), a waitress at the airport diner where he spends his nights.

Scott Kosar, the writer of the screenplay, was noted during the movie commentary on the DVD release to have stated that the plot was influenced by the Dostoevsky story The Double: A Petersburg Poem. The Reznik character is also depicted once reading Dostoevsky's The Idiot. Reznik's imagined alter ego is named Ivan, a possible reference to the character Ivan Karamazov, who is racked with guilt, goes insane, and has nightmares of the devil in Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov. In addition, when Reznik is riding the 'Route 666' attraction one of the faux movie marquees reads "Crime and Punishment", another Dostoevsky reference. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Machinist [Apr 2006]

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