There's madness in the Method as Christian Bale turns himself into the incredible shrinking man in The Machinist. Dropping 63lbs for the role, Bale plays Trevor Reznik - a factory machinist whose sanity begins to waver after he accidentally maims a colleague and becomes convinced that he's the victim of a secret conspiracy. Transforming himself into a walking skeleton - all sunken cheeks and protruding ribcage - Bale enlivens an otherwise ho-hum thriller with a bag o' bones star turn.
"If you were any thinner you wouldn't exist," whispers call girl Jennifer Jason Leigh, who, along with single-mom coffee shop waitress Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, takes an interest in our hero. Scrubbing his hands with bleach, eating nothing, and suffering from monumental insomnia (he claims he hasn't slept for a year), Reznik is obviously scarred by some awful past incident. When new co-worker Ivan (John Sharian) starts bugging him and weird Post-It-Notes appear on his fridge, it's obvious that the stick man is about to snap.
"IT'S THE SCREENPLAY THAT'S ANOREXIC"
You'll join the dots in Anderson's thriller within the first five minutes - a real crying shame since Bale deserved much more for his pound - or 63 - of flesh. As The Machinist meanders towards its inevitable conclusion there are some nice touches: the machine grey colours and the Memento-style confusion. Ironically, though, it's the paper-thin screenplay that really turns out to be anorexic as it squanders the star's unsettlingly masochistic physical transformation for the sake of a formulaic tale of ordinary madness. Talk about slim pickings.