Machinist, The (2004, SPA) C-102m. SCOPE *** D: Brad Anderson. Starring Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, John Sharian, Michael Ironside, Larry Gilliard Jr., Anna Massey. Extraordinary psycho drama that plays like a mystery: Machinist Bale, who works under deplorable conditions has problems with himself. He hasn't slept in a long time, he finds strange notes on the refrigerator and a mysterious man keeps popping up every now and then. Is Bale going insane? Bleak but atmospheric, well-directed and ideally scripted (by Scott Kosar), this puzzler owes more than a bit to JACOB'S LADDER (1990) but stands well on its own as a mystery thriller and an examination of repressed guilt. Bale is brilliant in the title role, for which he lost an incredible 63 pounds. Made and produced by Spanish hands (apart from director, screenwriter and cast), original title is EL MAQUINISTA.

© Ron Altman