Whoa. Whoa. Whoa.
I hadn't seen the trailer, so I was totally unprepared for just how skeletal Bale had made himself for this film -- and just to drive the point home, there is a single flashback shot in which we see him at his normal level of body fat. Seeing Bale in bed with Jennifer Jason Leigh (who plays yet another hooker), one cannot help but think that the rather modestly proportioned actress looks darn near voluptuous next to this guy. And when Leigh (and several other characters) express concern that Bale is too thin for his own good, you find yourself in vigorous agreement with them. This film is almost, I dunno, eating-disorder porn or something.
At least one guy asks Bale if he is on drugs -- he does look like a junkie in the extreme -- but he isn't. He tells Leigh at one point that he has not slept for an entire year, and I guess we're supposed to think that the sheer lack of rest -- i.e., the fact that his body requires fully-awake levels of energy 24 hours a day -- is supposed to account for how incredibly emaciated he looks. (Anyone here know human physiology well enough to know if this is plausible?)
Exactly what happened one year ago to make him such an insomniac is, of course, not spelled out right away -- there has to be some mystery -- but we ARE tipped off pretty early to the fact that Bale is hallucinating some things. (This is suggested both by the fact that Bale's bosses don't recognize the name of the new employee that he says works there -- an employee who is never seen talking to anyone but Bale -- and also by the Roque Banos score, which is reminiscent of Bernard Hermann's music for Psycho
and other Hitchcock flicks.) When Bale finally realizes that these things are hallucinations, the point is NOT to pull the rug out from under the audience, a la Fight Club
or something -- rather, because we knew all along that SOMEthing was amiss, the revelations at the end of the film do not shock or unnerve us the way so many films have tried to do in recent years (though they do shock and unnerve the character), but rather, they clarify and explain and bring the many threads of the film together into a united whole.
The film also has some nicely macabre bits of humour. When Bale confronts one character early on and says, "The guys at work don't even think you exist," the person replies, "THAT'S why I can't get a raise." And when Bale says to Leigh, "You know so little about me. What if I turn into a werewolf or something?" she replies, with a sly grin, "I'll buy you a flea collar."
So, overall, yeah, I liked the movie. Really unsettling, but in a good way, I think.
Interesting trivia sidebar: This is at least the third film (following Total Recall
and Starship Troopers
) in which Michael Ironside plays an amputee. I trust HE didn't have to commit himself to his role in the extreme way that Bale commited himself to his!
Edited by Peter T Chattaway, 25 September 2004 - 03:50 AM.