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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 17.91%
Average: 16.42%
Pretty Bad: 10.45%
Total Crap: 1.49%

9 reviews, 80 user ratings

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One Hour Photo
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by Erik Childress

"Arguably the Best Work of One Great Career and the Beginning of Another"
5 stars

It’s always the quiet ones you have to watch. How many times has that cliché been used on the evening news and translated to the pages of fiction? Perhaps if people watched them a little more often, their inevitable break may not be so inevitable. Music video directors are the noisy ones, always trying to show you how often they can edit and attempt to stimulate your senses once they get the promotion to feature films. This phenomenon has proven time and time again to be an irritance on the eyes and ears of moviegoers but Mark Romanek’s second feature, One Hour Photo, proves to be the perfect mesh of the two cliches.

Robin Williams stars as Sy Parrish, a rather mellow fellow who works at SavMart’s photo developing store. Despite living downtown, Sy has no problems making the long drive into suburbia, taking pride in every roll of film down to the precise color. The rolls he looks forward to most belong to the Yorkin family, who have been coming in for so many years that Sy has watched them grow up over the years, especially their young son, Jake (Dylan Smith). But as Sy tells us, most people take pictures of what they want to remember and never focus on the times without smiles.

Will Yorkin (Michael Vartan, TV’s “Alias”) is a “neglectful father” according to his wife, Nina (Connie Nielsen), who has grown rather accustomed to her husband bringing home the family bread, but not to the lack of attention he gives her and their son. Sy certainly pays attention to them, as we discover the shrine he proudly illuminates in his apartment, courtesy of extra rolls of their photos he develops for himself. Sy would naturally love to be closer to this surrogate family, but as he inches himself closer into the same occupied space, we wonder how far is too far.

How Williams and Romanek (who also wrote the script) approach the character of Sy is a masterstroke, constantly keeping us on edge and forcing us to reevaluate his intentions with each passing frame. Sy is a sad character; a self-described “chubby kid” who had few friends and has fed off his loneliness into his adult life. Even when we see him taking steps we know he shouldn’t, we empathize with his situation and as we may disapprove, deep down we don’t want him to get in trouble either.

As is par for the course for directors branching out of the music video industry, flashiness is a religion. Not so the case with Romanek, who like his contemporary David Fincher, treats the camera as his friend. He doesn’t abuse it, moving along the story without making pitstops for seizures in shutter speeds. He not only allows his camera to enter other objects but also his main character. Sy, such a stickler for perfect colors, is always surrounded by the shades of his own mood. The stark, sterile whites of his job, the drab browns of his nearly barren apartment and the bright rainbows of the Yorkin’s family album all contribute to Sy’s persona.

A persona that may not exist without the exemplary work of Robin Williams. As an actor who has constantly shifted himself from manic, sentimental comedies to the heaviest of dramas, this is arguably the best work of his career. There is not a trace of Williams in this role; not an ounce. Toning it down to a near whisper has been a trademark of his dramatic work as much as dialing it up for off-the-cuff comic montages are in his comedies, but here he almost seems to be barely breathing. A single reaction from him in a key scene is enough to warrant tears and the inner desperation he projects with just his eyes and mouth can put your stomach in knots. He’s both sympathetic and scary up until a final truth that may seem too pat for some, but calls attention to everything we’ve seen before into a perfect culmination. Solid supporting work is provided by both Connie Nielsen (Gladiator) and the priceless Gary Cole (Office Space) in yet another dead-on portrayal of a store manager.

This is the show of Williams and Romanek though. Displaying both the essence of an arthouse feature and an accessible genre piece, One Hour Photo, is a saddening creepy tale that is both funny and intense. Even when the film doesn’t appear to have any inner subtext as you watch Sy slowly spin into dangerous territory, what you’re ultimately left with is one of the best examples of how to treat a subject, you’re not fully aware is being examined, much like a photo of yourself you didn’t know was being taken.

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originally posted: 08/23/02 09:02:57
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User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell creepy but overdone 3 stars
11/04/14 action movie fan eerie compelling psychological drama- held my interest 4 stars
12/05/12 Delbert Unforgettable. Frightening and Sad. 5 stars
8/19/11 RLan Robin Williams creepy performance is the highlight of this film. 3 stars
5/10/11 Stephanie One of the creepiest movies I've seen. Changes Robin Williams for ya forever! 4 stars
8/30/08 Shaun Wallner The storyline is well made! 5 stars
7/26/07 Quigley Very creepy. Sex was off-putting. Has the scariest dream sequence ever. Williams is superb 5 stars
12/03/06 David Pollastrini williams plays a psycho pretty well 4 stars
4/13/06 chris f the most touching yet sad film ive ever watched - a masterpeice 5 stars
9/02/05 ES Better than Insomnia, Willams always had the creepy weirdo thing going on 3 stars
7/20/05 Chris Worth look, quite scary (photo stalking anyone?) 4 stars
7/15/05 Indrid Cold Good acting and direction, but not particularly interesting or suspenseful. 3 stars
11/15/04 DM Jack Sommersby was dropped on his head when he was little. 4 stars
5/10/04 scott wolstencroft it was a very good movie it was really enjoyable 4 stars
3/30/04 KGB Why not, it was very disturbing, not original but thought provoking 5 stars
3/06/04 Vinny Why not? 5 stars
1/03/04 A F Why? 2 stars
1/02/04 R.W. Welch Williams nails his role as lonely weirdo. 4 stars
12/25/03 Mike If you're involved in such technicalities, well worth a look. The whole concept of voyeurs. 3 stars
12/10/03 Samuel A great thriller!! 3 stars
10/29/03 Artist Freak Well crafted in some senses technically but ultimately dull and trite 3 stars
10/17/03 Josh Standlee More like a freaking made-for-t.v. movie. Hated it! 1 stars
9/29/03 Honolulu Tur As noted, creepy, but that doesn't mean it was good, just creep 3 stars
9/24/03 DM Creepy and well-acted; ending leaves something to be desired 4 stars
9/23/03 Alice Good Acting, liked it ! 5 stars
9/14/03 Jim Creepy 5 stars
8/29/03 Grenadine Homer RW was excellent. Did wonder about 1hr photos & now wonder about Pharmacists! 4 stars
7/29/03 chris that my neighbor?? 5 stars
4/08/03 Mystique great thriller 5 stars
3/29/03 BoB Best movie ive ever seen! 5 stars
3/11/03 Matthew Smith a nervewracking experience, Robin Williams really bought that sense of unease to his role 5 stars
2/27/03 brentley Robin Williams' Sy Parrish is sad, yet very creeeeeeeepy.... 4 stars
2/26/03 Andrew Carden Eerie and Disturbing Thriller... 5 stars
2/26/03 Ken Creepy and disturbing. The ending was to subtle for most, apparently. 4 stars
2/22/03 scott A OKAY FIM 3 stars
2/22/03 Paul W. "no real subtext," you say? I say, EXACTLY! 5 stars
2/17/03 Phillip Williams is totally captivating. A gripping film. 5 stars
2/14/03 Ant A great film. Williams gives one of the best performances of 2002. 5 stars
2/12/03 alien assassin Robin Williams is creepy !!!! 4 stars
1/31/03 caitlin doyle lots of suspense 5 stars
11/05/02 Michael Buehler Rosita at Walgreens knows what you got for Christmas. Go Digital for Crying Out Loud! 5 stars
10/29/02 Unanon Forced in parts, Tidy wrap-up attempt at end failed utterly. 4 stars
10/10/02 Hawaiiantomboy07 Great Movie with an awful ending. What happens to anyone???????? 4 stars
10/10/02 Georgeous A refreshing change from teen "comedies" and rip-offs 5 stars
9/30/02 STEVE wow!hollywood trying to make a movie with thats scary! 4 stars
9/27/02 Mark G. The scariest movie ever produced by hollywood in the last 4 years. Incredible. 5 stars
9/26/02 Morally Sound Darkly delicious and creepy. 5 stars
9/25/02 snowconehead This is the first time one single actor has successfully carried an extremely slow movie 5 stars
9/21/02 Nicole Successfully creepy but the ending leaves you wanting something more 4 stars
9/19/02 jashuay the scene where the blood gushes from his eyes fucking rocks! and master w. is gay. the end 5 stars
9/18/02 Dave Grant I thought this movie sucked, and I wished I had of left half-way through. Not worth a dime 1 stars
9/18/02 .Choadushouse. Beautiful direction. Worth seeing just for that. I'm so glad Romanek is doing movies now! 5 stars
9/16/02 Etherealcelt The day after seeing ONE HOUR PHOTO I went to Wallmart and got scared. Great movie! 4 stars
9/16/02 malcolm this is the same guy who played Mork from Ork?! 5 stars
9/16/02 mrchar awesome performance and good camera work 5 stars
9/15/02 Steve Too damn slow! 2 stars
9/15/02 rue the whirl IT ROCKED. SEE IT. 4 stars
9/14/02 Kisuta Great movie. Visually exellent. 5 stars
9/14/02 Tooltime Taylor Smile for the camera!! **crack!**YOU'RE NOT SMILING, THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN!!! HA HA HA 5 stars
9/13/02 Heather C-r-e-e-p-y Stellar performance from Robin Williams 5 stars
9/11/02 ajay the sex was hot---oh wrong movie. Yeah, it's really good. 5 stars
9/10/02 puckfreak Robin Williams blah, blah, blah... the rest of the movie is barely above average. 4 stars
9/06/02 Butterbean The ending saves this from becoming a cliched stalker flick. 4 stars
9/05/02 Zach The music fit the movie so well.I never knew an orchastra could scare me.GaveMeChills!!!!!! 5 stars
9/02/02 Film Dude Deserves a wider release. 5 stars
9/02/02 Film Guy Good movie. a little slow at times but still good 4 stars
8/26/02 bonnie blue Surprisingly pure of Hollywood! Deeply sensitive, frightening rendering of human loneliness 5 stars
8/26/02 Obi Wan Movie is worth a look, moved kinda slow and where the hell are the final pictures? 4 stars
8/25/02 ray wow, haven't seen better all year. 5 stars
8/25/02 K-ronik Blown away. Never seen Wiliams better. 5 stars
8/07/02 Stan Wonderful movie..Robin Williams deserves a Best Actor for this one... 5 stars
8/06/02 Scouse Fuckin Very Good Robin At His Best Showing What A Great Actor He Is So Versatile 5 stars
5/20/02 Travis Eddings Mesmerizing, tremendously creepy 5 stars
5/14/02 BaitedSoul Great job by Williams, but the movie was a little too twisted for me 3 stars
4/22/02 Mikey Williams is amazing. The man has tons of talent. I saw the film on a smuggled screener.., 5 stars
4/11/02 Keith Brilliant. This will be huge. 5 stars
4/09/02 spikeme all the time Robin FINALLY GOT GAME with this and Death to Smoochy 5 stars
3/28/02 :: c0ry ::(c0d3 1989) Mark Romanek has crafted one of the most important and visionary films in a long time 5 stars
3/17/02 me good stuff...feels like an american beauty kinda 4 stars
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  21-Aug-2002 (R)



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