‘The Machinist’, Explained

American author William Faulkner as soon as famously mentioned, “Individuals to whom sin is only a matter of phrases, to them salvation is simply phrases too.” Maybe these phrases usually are not simply phrases meant for paper however for all times itself. How many individuals commit sin and search to achieve salvation? What number of search to dwell a life with out guilt whereas committing sins on the best way?  These questions, whereas fairly troublesome to reply, are maybe greatest answered by the troubled Trevor Reznik within the psychological thriller ‘The Machinist’.

Directed by American writer-filmmaker Brad Anderson, ‘The Machinist’ follows the lifetime of Trevor Reznik, a machinist who suffers from insomnia and psychological issues. This fixed psychological unease causes him to have steady fights and arguments along with his co-workers. His deteriorating psychological well being results in him being fired from his office after a critical accident involving a co-worker. With him being ostracised from the society, the movie chronicles his downward spiral of paranoia and delusion.

Led by British actor Christen Bale, the movie is famous for its deep psychological undertones and concepts of salvation and guilt. Part of the spectrum of Bale’s initially filmography which labelled him as a technique actor, the movie is completely moulded by his chilling efficiency. Written by American screenwriter Scott Kosar, the movie is intrinsically constructed across the character improvement which formulates the succeeding narrative discourse. Aiding him is the gloomy cinematography by Xavi Giménez which showcases Trevor’s psychological discomfort, ache and trauma.

The movie’s narrative is intertwined by quite a lot of themes, motifs and symbols which construction the psychological thriller. From features reminiscent of self-knowledge, society’s behavioural tendencies, guilt and conscience, ‘The Machinist’ is a story of unattainable salvation. On this article, I try to grasp how the narrative of ‘The Machinist’ performs out towards the stunning climax. This text deconstructs the plot and additional discusses the themes, motifs, symbols and characters which kind the essence of the flick.

The Plot

‘The Machinist’ stars Christian Bale because the titular machinist, Trevor Reznik who suffers from insomnia, thus being immensely emancipated. His deteriorating well being and look hold his co-workers away. Issues flip worse with them turning in opposition to him when he’s concerned in an accident which causes his co-worker, Miller, to lose his left arm, on account of him being was distracted by an unfamiliar co-worker named Ivan. He’s ostracized when it seems that not one of the employees know Ivan, inflicting them to suspect Trevor of being insensitive and loopy. Nonetheless, Trevor has one silver lining in Stevie, a prostitute with real affection for him, and with Maria, a waitress at an airport diner he frequents.

Trevor can be haunted by transient flashes of recurring imagery and nightmares. Including to the murkiness, a mysterious sequence of post-it notes seem on his fridge, depicting a sport of hangman. Frequently troubled by the obscure incidents ship him additional into paranoia, he tries to ascertain a relationship with Maria. In a sequence of such occasions, he meets her and her son, Nicholas at an amusement park. Keen on a home experience known as “Route 666”, Trevor accompanies Nicholas however issues go unhealthy as flashing lights causes the child to endure an epileptic seizure. These steady weird occurrences drive Trevor paranoid and he begins suspecting that the weird occasions are a concerted effort by somebody to drive him insane. In an try to grasp these freak occasions, Trevor locates a number of small clues. One image of Ivan fishing with Trevor’s co-worker Reynolds, which he discovers in Ivan’s pockets when Ivan leaves it unattended in a pub, leads him to additional hypothesis. Nonetheless, Trevor’s steady paranoia causes him to lash out on individuals and fully alienate himself from all. Trevor forgets to pay his utility payments and his electrical energy is disconnected.

Amidst this isolation, Trevor someday notices a darkish, viscous liquid begins trickling out of the freezer, coating the fridge door with streaks of what seems to be blood. Once more suspecting Ivan’s hand in it, Trevor, with a purpose to confront him, tries to hint his license plate. He follows Ivan’s automotive to learn its license plate however runs out of fuel throughout the pursuit. He tries to accumulate the quantity from a DMV clerk however is informed that non-public data can’t be launched except against the law has been dedicated. Listening to this, Trevor throws himself in entrance of a automotive with a purpose to accuse Ivan of committing successful and run. Nonetheless, whereas submitting a police report with Ivan’s automotive’s plate quantity on it, Trevor will get to know that the automotive is his personal, which he had reported the car totalled one yr in the past. With no different choice, Trevor flees from the police station to dwell with Stevie. Whereas issues appear merry, he finds the photograph of Ivan and Reynolds framed in her house and accuses her of conspiring in opposition to him. Confused, Stevie says the image is of Reynolds and Trevor, however he refuses to have a look at it and is thrown out after a verbal battle.

To seek out search some compassion, Trevor goes to satisfy Maria on the airport diner, however to his shock, is informed by an unfamiliar waitress they’ve by no means had an worker named Maria. The waitress on the counter tells Trevor she has served him every single day for a yr, and in all that point he spoke so little that she started to suppose he was a mute.

Later that day, Trevor notices Ivan take Nicholas into Trevor’s residence. Fearing Nicholas’ security, he confronts Ivan, solely to kill him after having a scuffle. In an try to cover the physique, Trevor makes an attempt to foil Ivan right into a carpet however out of the blue has flashbacks of a photograph which present Trevor with Reynolds, which he noticed in Stevie’s residence. Then as he tries to eliminate Ivan’s corpse by rolling it in a rug and casting it into the ocean, he finds that there’s no one within the rug. Instantly a torch flashes at him from behinds, and it’s revealed that Ivan is, to Trevor’s utmost confusion, alive.

Trevor realizes that he had been hallucinating out of guilt, thus watching a mirror, mouthing the phrases, “I do know who you might be.”  It’s revealed yr in the past, Trevor ran over and killed a boy similar to Nicholas after taking his eyes off the highway to make use of the automotive’s cigarette lighter, which was witnessed by the boy’s mom, similar to Maria. Fearing prosecuting, he determined to drive away. Nonetheless, this act, of cowardice and unjust outcomes him being guilt-ridden, due to this fact inflicting insomnia, emaciation and repressed reminiscence. It’s then revealed that Ivan is a figment of Trevor’s creativeness and a manifestation of himself earlier than the accident. Trevor walks in the direction of the aforementioned hang-man sport, filling the lacking letters, which spell “killer.” In an try to flee, he reconsiders his determination and drives to police headquarters. He sees Ivan, encouraging his determination, and on the police station’s entrance desk, he confesses to the hit and run case. Two law enforcement officials escort Trevor to a cell, the place he states his needs to sleep and does so for the primary time in a yr.


Insomnia is the primary image which helps viewers perceive Trevor’s way of thinking. The principle narrative stars with Trevor considering his disparity of not with the ability to sleep and the narrative concludes with him lastly with the ability to get a very good sleep. Sleep deprivation is employed to experience the theme of salvation. One may contest the truth that the hallucinations had been part of a nightmare, proving the truth that he doesn’t endure from insomnia however from horrible nightmares. Such a idea has some plausibility to it as he could be hallucinating whereas dozing off within the day, because of his incapability to sleep within the night time.  When Trevor learns that Ivan, Maria and Nicholas had been simply components of his guilt-ridden hallucination, it showcases the instability of his thoughts. The movie doesn’t contest upon the theme insomnia. It’s only a technique of sketching out his succeeding character traits. The movie employs insomnia as a metaphor for his sleep being disadvantaged on account of guilt and culpability.


The narrative machine which sparks off Trevor’s character arc is the theme of “guilt”. By means of the development of the movie, we discover a chilling air looming via the narrative. Trevor is proven to be immensely emancipated. In a single scene, whereas speaking to his girlfriend Stevie, Trevor jokingly protrudes his ribs, showcasing a harrowing picture of his physique. His well being deteriorates as he suffers from insomnia and sees horrible nightmares.

‘The Machinist’ touches upon quite a lot of theories of “irregular psychology”.  The movie explores the guilt which performs an important position within the improvement of psychological discomfort, and in Trevor’s case, insomnia to delusional paranoia. The elevated give attention to Trevor’s hallucination additionally factors in the direction of the facet of “guilt-induced schizophrenia”. Trevor’s erratic behaviour has influences from sure varieties of bipolar dysfunction and auditory hallucinations dysfunction. The narrative additionally offers in Trevor’s intrinsic shift in behaviour aided by underlying neurosis, which connects Trevor’s behaviour and his guilt. Trevor showcases signs of getting OCD and as we see his compulsive cleansing behaviours. If seemed rigorously, he’s obsessive about washing his arms. The movie connects his OCD with guilt because the washing of hand symbolises Trevor washing the blood off his arms.

The Ending and the Characters

Ivan: Ivan is crated as a way to characterize Trevor’s guilt. Together with his conscience disturbed, Ivan acts as a manifestation of himself and his previous. Ivan just isn’t solely the manifestation of his guilt, however can be a manifestation of his personal self. Within the climactic scenes, as Trevor tries to drive a confession out of Ivan, learns that Ivan’s automotive is definitely his personal. He used to drive the identical automotive which Trevor seemingly had destroyed after the accident. We additionally see that Ivan has an odd look, notably his severed thumb, which is changed by a toe. The looks symbolizes the sin Trevor had dedicated. Ivan’s presence is a continuing reminder of the insensitive act Trevor had gotten away with. In the long run, as Trevor turns himself in, Ivan smiles, approving with acknowledgement. Ivan’s position had achieved his true goal.

Marie and Nikolas: Whereas Marie and Nicholas appear to be the one individuals with noble and good intentions, we study that is also a figment of Trevor’s creativeness. Created by him in an try to reduce his deep ridden of guilt, the sluggish development of madness is sparked off from. Because it seems, Nikolas was the kid who Trevor by chance killed and Marie was his mom. In a deep sense of dwelling in a world with out penalties, the bind that Marie and Nicholas share with him is his approach of lightening the burden of guilt. It additionally throws mild on the truth that the contemplate him to be a “good man”, a praise which he tried to show himself his clear and simply conscience.

Time additionally foreshadows their position in his hallucinatory experiences. Trevor and the mother-son duo determine to satisfy on the amusement park at 1:30, the precise time of the accident. It additionally revealed that Trevor and his mom used to go to the identical amusement park. The bond Maria and Nicholas signify the connection shared by a baby and his mom – an element which haunts him much more.


Route 66: The significance of Nicolas’ dying is first showcased when he has an epileptic assault whereas he and Trevor experience within the “Freeway to Hell” experience. The brief journey presents Trevor’s tormented way of thinking. When Nicholas has the assault, Trevor dutifully takes him to the hospital, which he ought to have finished within the accident. Nicholas’ epileptic assault is simply part of hallucination and a way to justify the truth that Trevor is a person of noble deeds and ideas.

The Fridge and the Notes: The fridge and the notes caught to it even have an immense significance in sketching out Trevor’s emotionally distraught state. There are single pictures of the fridge and in a single scene, blood pours out, elevating the degrees of curiosity. The notes, which are literally a sport of hangman is stuffed up by somebody and it isn’t clear as to who completes the sport. Nonetheless, as revealed later, the sport was really accomplished by Trevor himself. Maybe it’s his guilt which pens out the six-lettered phrase – “Killer”.

Closing Phrase

‘The Machinist’ is a deep and darkish look into an individual’s psyche. It explores the themes which tautness and edginess. With a cohesive screenplay and a well-executed route, Bale’s character showcases how guilt can flip an individual insane which may end up in way more deadlier penalties.

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