Christian Bale is well known for his inclination towards roles that require physical transformations of some sort, so whenever he beefs up to play a psycho or Superhero (or both) or drops half his body weight for a POW or mysterious insomniac, the transformation itself often becomes the story. It’s only because of Bale’s incredible talents as an actor that he’s managed to, if not conquer the gimmick aspect of these changes, own the gimmick along with the genuine performance accolades. So again will it likely be with Concrete Island, a film which will see re-team with The Machinist director Brad Anderson and Machinist writer Scott Kosar. Together they’ll be adapting the 1974 J.G. Ballard allegorical novel about a man who finds himself trapped in “a section of fenced-off wasteland in the middle of a motorway intersection” after a car wreck (wiki). His isolation in the concrete wasteland below an unending sea of vehicles passing overhead drives him to paranoia and self-reflection.
Ballard is known for his bizarre novels that feature minimally dimensional character inhabiting reflective landscapes of their own psyche. Despite a traditionally narrative style, Ballard doesn’t care much for logical plot or characterization, and focuses more on exploring abstract concepts. Concrete Island was written immediately after Ballard’s most famous novel Crash, which was adapted by Cronenberg into what is perhaps his most pandering portrait of American race relations detached and inaccessible work. Concrete Island is another that sees a man inhabiting a dystopian landscape where the surroundings say as much about the character and our world as any trait the character directly demonstrates.
This extremely intriguing premise will give Bale to opportunity to shed his Batman build for something more like his Trevor Reznik body-type that he adopted in Anderson’s The Machinist. I’m sure the transformation won’t be that extreme though- there’s only so many times Bale can healthily pull the 180º body trick. And again, while the transformation is often the focus of the coverage, I’m much more interested in the translation of this story, which seem perfect for a killer ominous drama, if it doesn’t have its head shoved too far up its own ass. Anderson’s latest, Vanishing on 7th Street, hasn’t been all that well received, but he’s still undoubtedly a competent filmmaker, no matter what sized screen he’s directing for. If he can return to his textural, moody roots again maybe he’ll pull something interesting out.
Unfortunately the story comes from a very small piece at We Got This Covered, who got little more than a soundbite from the director about the project. There’s definitely no info about a start date, or how far along the project is at present. Hopefully we’ll hear more about this from Bale as he sits under the awards spotlight for The Fighter, and hopefully it won’t all be bullshit!
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