Projections - Movie Reviews

One Hour Photo

One Hour Photo

Robin Williams delivers an unhappy lonely man to the big screen in the brooding One Hour Photo.  This independent-styled production directed and written by esteemed music video author Mark Romanek employs some voyeuristic activity in this eerie contemporary satire of suburbia.

Romanek's vision, sharply complemented by the monochromatic world of Williams' Sy Parrish (known as the photo guy), is sensitive to the characters external and inner selves from the idealized perspective mired in loneliness.  The palette which reflects the costumes and designs of those Sy comes into contact has the filmmaker demonstrating much persuasiveness with the camera.

A part filled with maturity by Williams shows Sy, a one hour photo developer manager, very particular about the quality of threading negatives to print pictures.  It's important for him to capture "the happy moments of people; no one photographs something they wish to forget".  The Southern California Savmart man with a little potbelly and a powdery complexion to match his receding blonde hair begins to show another side when he comes home to a drab but spotless apartment.

One wall of his sterile laboratory-like living quarters is covered with snapshots of the picture-perfect Yorkins, a family whom the single Sy has imagined being a part of for years.  From meeting the lovely, well-dressed Nina (Connie Nielsen of Gladiator) inside a suburban discount department store, he's quietly assumed the role of "Uncle" Sy since her marriage to Will (Michael Vartan "Alias") and the birth of son Jake (Dylan Smith).  Developing rolls of film for the Yorkins during vacations and celebrations, Sy is happy to imagine he is part of the family.

Yet, Romanek and Williams take on an uneasy, look into Sy's reaction to the Yorkin's life, especially Nina, as a reality check comes when an alluring patron (Erin Daniels) gets some photos developed.

One Hour Photo is a thriller that "points and shoots" at its subject with a subtle psychological intensity.  And this damaged, perverse individual injects his presence with a compassion for family.

The acclaimed video director of artists like Madonna and Lenny Kravitz infuses themes of obsession and delusion to crossover into maintaining perfection in a privacy which the photo guy needs for his well-being.  When Sy is watching "The Simpsons" at home or visiting an empty home while having a beer or in a dream suffering an Oedipal hemorrhage, the mood created by director and actor is often distressing.  The vibrant, almost intrusive score with numbing tender chords is driven by the impassioned turn of some undisclosed details, as the story straddles a threshold between reality and fantasy.

Romanek allows actors like Gary Cole and Eriq La Salle ("ER") to surface in lesser roles as Sy's unwise, vigilant boss and a sympathetic, persistent police investigator.  Yet, Williams shines oddly as a stark, pale driven man who just likes to take pictures and make memories from them.  In a verdant, upper-class setting like the Yorkins to the cold bluish environment of the very neat Savmart he manages with several voice-overs to make a disconnected character scary and fascinating right up to the final close-up.

 
Frank
Chris
Tony
Jim
Howard
Jennifer
Kathleen
Avg.
One Hour Photo
B+
 
B
B+
 
B
B-
B
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