The Machinist

Nothing supports theories on the damage of sleep deprivation quite like seeing Christian Bale’s condition in The Machinist.

Bale’s character, Trevor Reznik, is in the vicious throes of chronic insomnia, leaving him emaciated and slowly drawn into a whirlpool of mental illness. An unfortunate accident at Reznik’s work triggers blame, rejection and shame, and the film’s plot begins to unravel.

Apparently, in preparation for his role, Bale only consumed 250 calories a day for four months, and filming had to be moved ahead as the Welsh-born actor had dropped down to a shocking 50 kilograms, which had seriously endangered his health.

If a little confusing, The Machinist is worth a watch for Bale’s frightenly dangerous application of method acting alone.

Fight Club

'With insomnia, nothing’s real. Everything’s far away. Everything’s a copy of a copy of a copy,' drawls Edward Norton as he stands, bleary-eyed, monotonously replicating office documents.

Four years after Se7en, David Fincher once again recruited Brad Pitt in his adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s audacious 1996 novel, symbiotically alongside Norton’s unnamed protagonist. Despite being held in high regard now, Fight Club failed to make any impact at the box office, but later adopted cult status upon its DVD release.

When it comes to the film’s success, it turns out everything is indeed a copy of a copy of a copy.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet lead a stellar cast in this beautifully-warped story of two former lovers who, after allowing a pioneering company to infiltrate their minds as they sleep, have each other erased from their memories.

As in his previous screenplay for Being John Malkovich, Charlie Kaufman’s convoluted narrative cares nothing for conventional chronological delivery, and won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay as a result of its imaginative story.

Carrey and Winslet’s on-screen interaction and Elijah Wood’s disturbing performance as an obsessive memory-wiping employee are worth their weight in its deserved Oscar’s gold.

Bonus entry: Eternal Sunshine director Michel Gondry followed that film up with the similarly slumbering The Science of Sleep.

Waking Life

Richard Linklater’s startling debut animation may utilize the hackneyed ‘it was all a dream’ technique, but it pulls no punches in letting the viewer know this from the start. Filmed with the mesmerizing ‘rotoscope’ method also seen in Linklater’s adaptation of A Scanner Darkly, Waking Life’s protagonist meanders through an ethereal dreamlike state, conversing with a whole host of surreal characters on existentialism and consciousness.

A highlight? A frighteningly informative offering of powerful lucid dreaming techniques to the overwhelmed protagonist.


After finishing Insomnia in 2002, Christopher Nolan wrote the bare bones of Inception, but delayed it to direct Memento, The Prestige and two exceptional Batman films. Such a delay was worth the wait, as his success helped the film transform from a low-budget horror movie on the dangers of lucid dreaming to a colossal blockbuster which grossed nearly 1 billion dollars at the box office.

Not to be watched with a hangover, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy excel in a multi-layered, intricately written film with one of the most ambiguous and hotly-debated endings of modern times.