One Hour Photo
A movie premiere at Sundance 2002, but like most 'indy' films, had a limited release. It has since won other film festival awards and had a massive campaign to hype its DVD release. Is this movie starring Robin Williams as freaky as they say?
"According to The Oxford English Dictionary, the word "snapshot" was originally a hunting term." -Sy 'the Photo Guy' Parrish
The basic plot of One Hour Photo isn't anything you haven't heard before in some form. In short, Sy the Photo Guy (played by Robin Williams) gets too attached to a family that isn't his, and takes this fasination too far. Right from the start you know he does something since he's being interigated by the police, but what it is he has done is yet unknown.
Like the name implies, Sy the Photo Guy works at a one-hour photo lab at a "megamart" named Sav*Mart. For years now he has developed the photos of the Yorkin family. In his lonely existence, he dreams himself to be part of their family through the pictures he sees as they bring them in to be developed. Pictures of their child, Jakob, from birth to his most recent 9th birthday. But these imaginary walls are soon torn apart, by his own doing.
Robin Williams does an outstanding job as the creepy Sy. If you have seen Insomnia, think of an even more pathetic version of Walter Finch. Don't expect this Williams to make you laugh. He is a big part of the reason why this movie succeeds for the most part. It is never so much his actions or even what he says, but rather what is going on inside Sy's head. This is what creeps you out the most. It is hard to put into words exactly what is meant by this, which is why it works so well in the context of the movie. The quiet denemor of Sy contrasted with his outburts furthers this cause.
The look of the film itself helps convey the creepiness of this guy "stalking" the Yorkins. Scenes with Sy always look very 'sterile', especially those in the Sav*Mart. Where as those of the Yorkin family are very "warm". Blues and grays as opposed to reds and orange. Unlike a M. Night Shyamalan film, this isn't done just to distinguish these two as separate entities, they are done to help set the atmosphere of the movie.
One Hour Photo isn't THAT creepy though. It does a very good job of it, but I guarantee it won't give you nightmares like some films might. I think part of the problem stems from the fact from begining to end, you know something isn't right. Sy starts out in a police station and most of the movie is really a flashback. The first night you see Mrs. Yorkin putting her son to bed when he goes off on how he feels sorry for Sy since he seems so loney. This comes way too early, and way out of left field at that point. A bigger problem I have is the way the Yorkin family is portrayed. Right from the start there are problems in their family too. The classic case of a father, and a husband, that works too much. It makes it hard to feel sorry for this man for what Sy does to him. I think it would of played better if at first we were drawn a picture of a 'perfect' family and slowly all these other problems were brought into the light. Build towards the climatic finish. It would of helped make what Sy does all the creepier.
As far as the DVD package goes, it is your standard affair. There is your director's commentary, the trailer, some interviews, and a 'behind the scenes' look. Nothing special, but a solid enough presentation.
"If pictures have anything to say, it's this: I was here, I existed. I was young and happy and someone cared enough about me to take my picture...Nobody takes a picture of something they want to forget." -'Uncle' Sy Parrish
In the end, I enjoyed this movie. It may not be the greatest film I've seen recently, or even the creepiest, but I do recommend it. I still like the humerous version of Robin Williams more, but I appreciate this darker side of his recent films. He does a great job here that's for sure. I think I downplayed a bit just how creepy this movie is bcause don't get me wrong, it will freak you out and definitely make you feel uncomfortable. One Hour Photo isn't anything revolutionary, but that's not a bad thing. So many 'indy' films can be preachy or artsy for the sake of being artsy (if you know what I mean). This film will just make you go out and get a digital camera so you can avoid one-hour photo shops altogether.
Title: One Hour Photo
Theatrical release: 2002
DVD release: Feb. 11, 2003
Directed by: Mark Romanek
Written by: Mark Romanek