Tuesday, 5 April 2011

The Manchinist Review

The Machinist is the 2004 psychological thriller directed by Brad Anderson. The film revolves around the character of Trevor Resnik and industrial machine worker who is in the process of a mental breakdown. He suffers from severe insomnia and mild OCD. These are minor mental problems that encourage further decay in his state of mind. During the development of the film Trevor becomes increasingly paranoid over a new employee he sees at work. After an accident his caused at the factory due to this distraction Trevor is convinced that someone is out to get him. This paranoia drives his illness he turns on his one source of emotional support, Stevie a local call girl. A twist in the plot reveals that Ivan (the mysterious employee) is actually a mental representation of himself, who drives his old car. At the end of the film it is revealed that years earlier Resnik murdered a small boy in a hit and run accident... The source of his anguish and pain that destroys him physically, mentally and emotionally.

Resnik's physical appearance is one of the first features depicted to the audience, and an element of why the audience becomes disturbed by his story. Actor Chri

stian Bale lost 60 pounds for the role leaving his body practically skeletal. His physical appearance is tragic. Pale and malnourished as if the life is being sucked out of him. Along with the characters tiredness the hollows of his eye leave his face dark and lifeless. a key quote from the film repeated by both Stevie and Maria (the waitress) is "If you were any thinner you wouldn't exist." As an audience member it is assumed that secretly this is what Resnik wants, to slowly disappear from existance. His overall appearance does display him as a pitiful, tragic character, helping to gain some empathy towards this character which means that viewers become more engrossed in his suffering story.

His physical distortion is enhanced through certain elements like lighting. The above photo shows how lighting makes his apartment seem dark and very clinical, a reflection of his OCD behaviour (cleaning everything even his own hands with bleach). The clinical nature strips his surroundings of personality, it is cold and inhospitable mirroring the atmosphere of a morgue and so connotating death and despair. The photo to the left uses dense shade. Dense shade creates an uneasy atmosphere, darkness represents paranoia in both the character in the scene and the audience as there is that inevidable question of 'is there something behind you?' what is there that you can't see.

The overall plot contains many symbols and linkages from Resnik's past hit and run experience that are then mirrored in his present life. The car that Ivan drives Resnik later finds out was infact his own car that was written off two years ago, (after the accident). One of Resnik's love interests is a waitress at an airport cafe, Maria. She has a young son called Nicholas who Resnik takes to a fun fair. At the end of the film it is revealed that Maria and Nicholas dont actually exist in the lives that Resnik has dreamed them into but they are infact the haunting memory of the mother and child affected by the hit and run accident years ago. One of the rides he took Nicholas on at the fair was a ride called 'Route 666' a reference to not only the devil or Resnik's impending road to hell but also the road he was driving along (route 66) when the accident occured.

It is all of these linkages that build up throughout the plot allowing for the tension to build up to the climax of the narrative twist at the end which allows the audience to finally understand what has caused Resnik's sudden decline in mental and physical health.

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