The Machinist Trevor Reznik
The Machinist Trevor Reznik is a machinist who has suffered from severe weight loss to the point where he has become severely emaciated. His alarming appearance and strange behavior causes his co-workers to keep away, leaving him in the arms of Stevie, a prostitute who shows genuine compassion for him, only to lose her in the end.
Trevor is also no longer able to think clearly and begins to suspect that the bizarre events in his life are a concerted effort to drive him insane. Throughout the film, the audience is able to evaluate Trevor’s sleeping habits, leading to the conclusion that every chance he is given to rest becomes indefinitely interrupted. With the characteristics Trevor shows, and the events in the film leading to the end, it is feasible to come to the conclusion that Trevor suffers from a severe case of insomnia.
Causes Guilt/Anxiety Guilt is effectively a form of anxiety or stress, so it’s stress hormones that are preventing you from sleeping. It’s a continuous flight or fight response, but the body isn’t capable of dealing with prolonged stress, as the hormones make sleep difficult and lighter as it’s expecting to have to run away soon. ” (Ashley Morris, 2012, 1. ) Throughout the film, we find Trevor’s insomnia partially stems from his own personal struggle with guilt. This is a feeling of responsibility or remorse for an offense or crime which has spiraled out of control, becoming a living hell created inside Trevor’s mind.
Trevor is constantly worried he’s being followed and that he has to run away from his crime, leaving little time for sleep. So what Trevor guilty of? That is left for the audience to piece together themselves with different clues presented in the film. In a scene during the movie Trevor and Maria’s son Nicholas, both hallucinations made up by Trevor, go on a ride at an amusement park called ‘Route 666’. The ride quickly becomes an unsettling picture of Trevor’s mind along with taunting images.
For example, the car moves past a dummy dressed as a Native American brandishing a severed hand, which serves as an obvious reminder to Trevor of the accident on the shop floor in which he was guilty of a coworker losing his hand. The car then approaches a fork in the road; to the left is a ‘Highway to Hell’ and to the right a ‘Road to Salvation’. Naturally, the car takes the ‘Highway to Hell’ route and there are more flashes of Trevor’s past, causing Nicholas to suffer from an epileptic fit.
Later in the film, Trevor finds he is confronted with a similar choice in an underground sewer while being chased by police. Ahead were two tunnels, one was darkened and the other well lit, but the shadow of a man was present around the corner of the lit tunnel. It feels as though the figure is meant to represent the true Trevor, but he chooses not to confront himself and the actions in which he is guilty of but instead heads for the darkness, running away from him self and the truth as to what he has done.
Unfortunately, in Trevor’s situation he was extremely guilty and suffered from bouts of paranoia and anxiety, but was not able to comprehend why until the film had concluded. This guilt not only affected Trevor’s inability to sleep, but altered many other factors in his life. The creation of Ivan, Trevor’s guilty conscience, could be seen as an escape and a way for Trevor to blame Ivan for the acts he committed. An example of this situation in the film would be when Trevor had shown more interest in Ivan than Miller, a co-worker, which resulted in Miller losing a part of his left arm.
Trevor had easily blamed this on Ivan, which he himself believed to be a co-worker, although no one else had any record of him. Stimulants “Stimulants are a class of psychoactive drug that increase activity in the brain. These drugs can temporarily elevate alertness, mood and awareness. ” (Kendra Cherry, 2007, 1) This would mean that the usage of stimulants such as caffeine through coffee or nicotine, both of which Trevor used frequently in the film, are causing his mind to become neurally stimulated preventing him from becoming relaxed and allowing him to sleep.
The extended use of these stimulants helps Trevor’s insomnia to develop which disturbs his sleep cycles. Trevor’s inability to maintain sleep mainly stems from his guilt, but is also enhanced by the stimulants Trevor indulges in. Trevor is known for his excessive caffeine use, and as expressed here, “While caffeine has several positive effects such as increasing energy and mental alertness, heavy use can cause symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia. (Kendra Cherry, 2007, 3) Caffeine is not the only stimulant Trevor uses, he is also an excessive chain smoker. Since “nicotine delivered by smoking or chewing tobacco causes the liver to release glucose and the adrenal medulla to release epinephrine,” (Anne Hamilton, 2010, 9) this also contributes to Trevor’s “fight or flight” behavior. Since Trevor is always afraid and on the run, part of his behavior is stemming from the use of nicotine, which is triggering excess adrenalin. Characteristics
Hallucinations/ Delusions “Hallucinations involve perceiving things in the absence of stimulation. In other words, a hallucination involves perceiving things that are not really there. A hallucination can false or distorted, but seem very real and vivid to the person experiencing it. ” (Kendra Cherry, 2007, 1) “Delusions are irrational beliefs, held with a high level of conviction, that are highly resistant to change even when the delusional person is exposed to forms of proof that contradict the belief. (American Psychiatric Association, 2000) Many of Trevor’s actions could classify him as delusional. When Trevor goes to the police station trying to track the license plate number of who he believes to be Ivan, he is told he can not do so unless a crime has been committed. Naturally, Trevor decides to run into oncoming traffic so he has feasible reason to report a crime, subconsciously creating a hit and run accident just as he had done.
All of Trevor’s hallucinations, such as Ivan, Nicholas, and Maria all stem from Trevor’s crime. Ivan, Trevor’s self conscience, appears before Trevor every time he turns around throughout the film. Trevor even believes he sees Ivan’s boots and a picture of him fishing with a friend at Stevie’s house. We come to find though that boots are Trevor’s which he had been wearing at the time of the crime, and when he takes a second look at the picture, he realizes it is he, not Ivan, who is in the photo.
As for Maria and Nicholas, they are supposed to be representatives of the mother and son involved in the crime Trevor had committed. Maria, the waitress Trevor would visit at night and converse with over pie and coffee symbolizes the mother of the boy he had run over, and Nicholas is representative of the boy. Trevor spending time with Nicholas, such as in the amusement park, could be seen as a subconscious apology from Trevor by getting to know Nicholas and trying to bond with him. Inability to Achieve/ Maintain Sleep
Trevor seems to be unable fall asleep, and at any point where he is able to he only experiences “micro naps” or “micro sleep”, which are periods of sleep that only last up to a few seconds, usually experienced by people who are severely deprived of sleep as Trevor is, before being woken up. Even though Trevor may not remember his crime, due to the fact that his lack of sleep has severely affected his brain and physical appearance, it has still prevented him from being able to live a normal and healthy lifestyle. Memory Loss/ Forgetfulness
As Trevor grows increasingly distracted and alienated, he forgets to pay his utility bills and his electricity is disconnected. This ends up leading to the trickling out of a dark liquid from Trevor’s freezer, eventually coating the refrigerator door with streaks of the liquid, which the viewer, and Trevor, later realizes is the blood of the fish Trevor had caught on his fishing adventure with a coworker. As Trevor begins to realize his developing forgetfulness, he starts leaving himself post it notes to remind himself of anything important, since his brain is not able to function properly anymore because of his lack of rest and nourishment.
Inability to Focus/ Accidental Nature Trevor’s lack of sleep has resulted in the unawareness of his surroundings, causing him to become accident prone. An example of such behavior would be when Trevor becomes easily distracted by his hallucinations, most particularly Ivan, resulting in the loss of his friend Miller’s left arm. Another example of Trevor being unable to focus would be when he visits Stevie for help after he has been hit by a car, and he lashes out at her when he sees what he believes to be Ivan’s boots, when in reality they are his.
During the same visit, as earlier stated, Trevor finds a picture of a coworker on a fishing trip, and believes Ivan to be the other person in the picture, although it truly is Trevor. If Trevor had been able to sleep, he would have been aware of all his surroundings and could have tried to rationally piece together the puzzle that had become his life. However, due to the circumstances, Trevor’s co-workers indefinitely turned against him, and his outburst had caused him to lose Stevie, leaving him with no friends or relationships to rely on.