This dark film sees Christian Bale in the lead role, playing machine operator Trevor Reznik in an industrial plant.
The opening scene sees Reznik disposing of a corpse and being illuminated in the beam of a flashlight. This sets the scene for Reznik’s odd behaviour during the film and lets us know as the audience that Reznik has or will commit a crime at some stage.
Reznik is thoroughly underweight and his appearance will draw gasps of shock from viewers. He seems to be obsessive – monitoring his falling weight, always going to the airport café late at night, and avoiding sleep.
Essentially he has a psychiatric condition somewhere between paranoid schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and reactive depression, and his journey in discovering for himself what is going on, and the tricks his mind plays on him makes both compelling and fascinating viewing.
Suppressed memories contribute pieces towards scenes played in Reznik’s mind which he experiences as reality, the resulting confusion adding layers and tension to the final ‘reveal’.
The film is an interesting example of the ‘split-personality’ of schizophrenia so beloved by modern film-makers. Despite this being an inaccurate interpretation of the condition, it makes for marvellous screenplay.
The dark and foreboding atmosphere and the paranoid edge are useful to consider the feelings of someone suffering from a psychosis and to provide an explanation for some of their actions and behaviour, although it doesn’t do much for the image of mental health.
Bale is brilliant as the tormented Reznik and his devotion to the role is evident.