Monday, 11 April 2011

The Machinist - Film review

(image courtesy of

This film was about a man who had killed a boy in a hit and run accident, but had repressed the memories of this. The guilt caused him to lose sleep and he began to hallucinate, creating people and events which never existed. Throughout the film he tries to find out what is going on and finally realises the truth at the end.

This is the most modern film we have watched, and I think one of the most effective.

This film contained elements from some of the other films, especially The Tennant. Until the very end of the film, the character’s delusions are shown to be fact, and it is only towards the end when these unravel that the viewer begins to doubt his version of reality and it is revealed that he has actually been repressing memories. For example, at the beginning of the film he was shown to be disposing of a body, but at the end it is shown that this body did not actually exist. However I feel that this film used this distortion of reality to far greater effect than The Tennant. The main character’s delusions are presented as pure fact, and while the viewer may have suspicions that they are not seeing the complete truth, the reality of the situation is not revealed until the very end of the film. This creates and sustains suspense and intrigue throughout the entire film, holding the attention of the viewer.

The dingy settings, such as his flat and the factory where he works, create an unpleasant atmosphere which helps the viewer to empathise with the his state of mind.

It also has a large Freudian influence in the form of repression. Repression, according to Freud, is a defence mechanism enforced by the ego to protect the id from harm. The ego represses painful or damaging memories so that they are no longer consciously available. However this tends to have repercussions, as the memories are still there even if they are not available. The person may begin to act out in strange ways, and mental illnesses may even occur. In the case of this film, the main character cannot sleep and a combination of the repressed memories and sleep deprivation (well known for causing hallucinations) causes him to construct his own reality.

While most of this film revolved around the psychological state of the character, there were a few images designed to shock the viewer. The blood pouring out of the fridge and the man’s arm being cut off are examples of these. The man’s arm getting cut off was a good way of conveying the severity of the main character’s situation and state of mind.

I thought that this was a well made and effective film and is a brilliant example of a psychological thriller.

1 comment:

  1. Good to see these reviews Jenny, and good to see that you're thinking about this film in terms of Freudian theory.