'El Maquinista' is a movie about a man who subconscious keeps making him thinner and thinner. While he committed a terrible crime, he is unable to see himself as a criminal; in fact, he does not remember the fact that he committed a terrible crime. However, deep inside his memory remembers his crime, and this drives him to make him thinner and thinner so that he can physically remove his existence in time. 'El Maquinista' is apparently heavily influenced by Dostoevsky's 'Crime and Punishment'. As a matter of fact, quite a few specific similarities between 'El Maquinista' and 'Crime and Punishment' are found.
i) Similarities in two storylines
1. 'Crime and Punishment' has three parts. Part 1 is the murder that the main character commits, Part 2 is his discovery and acceptance of the crime and Part 3 is rebirth of the main character. 'El Maquinista' basically takes out Part 1 and Part 3 and only focuses on Part 2. The main character in 'El Maquinista', Trevor Reznik played by Christian Bale is able to discover and accept the fact that he killed a young boy; he has no physical defect, yet he is psychologically so tortured that he can not connect his life and the murder that he committed. Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment also experiences similar difficulty in accepting the fact that he murdered a person.
1.2. While both characters have great difficulty in accepting their crimes, they both choose to suffer to seek salvation subconsciously. Trevor Reznik keeps losing weight; he physically sufferers, and he keeps elevating the level of suffering as more time passes. Raskolnikov also chooses to suffer; he chooses to suffer psychologically more than physically, but the amount to which they both choose to suffer is rather extreme, and this is where we find similarities.
2. Both the woman who comforts the main character Trevor Reznik in 'El Maquinista', Stevie, and the woman who comforts the main character Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment are prostitutes, though they meet their women in different circumstances. Trevor Reznik meets Stevie as a customer, but Raskolnikov meets Sofya through Sofya's father; Raskolnikov is not a Sonya's customer. There are many similarities in how these two women comfort their men and guide them to free their soul.
ii) Similarities in symbols
Trevor Reznik becomes so thin that he almost does not exist physically. This symbolizes the state of his mind, which is that he does not want to exist. More specifically, he desires that a part of him that killed a young boy would not exist. Raskolnikov does not fasten or torture himself physically, but he spends much time in his apartment. He also wants to stay low profile; he is not someone who wants everyone in town to know about him. While he is a very intelligent man and he has a strong will, his actions do not tell that he wants to raise his visibility.
'El Maquinista' is a well-crafted movie; the story has depth, and it's like a classic literature. If you enjoy reading a (dark) classic literature such as Dostoevsky's 'Crime and Punishment', you'd probably enjoy watching this movie.