This was my second viewing of The Machinist, which technically makes this a 4 star by my own definitions, but it really made it back to screen for me so I could show it to someone else who’d missed it when I saw it in the theater. The posted rating is a much better representation of my experience, which was a slightly stronger than normal 3 stars.
Part of the issue is that Bale’s extreme loss of weight, the real claim to fame of this film, is distracting … in the extreme. It is meant to be provocative, but my head kept wondering about the damage he was doing to himself rather than its meaning for the character and his journey. At that point, it isn’t serving the film. I had the same reaction the first time I saw it in its original release. In addition, the mystery is just not that mysterious. I had wondered how rewatching it would be, knowing the answers and not having to care about the reveals, but didn’t find it to make much difference. In some ways, the clues were just so obvious the character had to be willful stupid to miss the point. And he was. Often.
Visually and design-wise, it is a wonderfully moody piece and the acting, for the most part, is uniformly good. If you haven’t seen this and want to see Bale in an uglier version of the character he created for American Psycho or just want to see some of his earlier work before he was a household name here in the States, it is worth your time. Otherwise, it is pretty much up to your mood and curiosity (like do you want to see a 6′ man weighing <120 pounds or is that just not necessary in your life?).