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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 MP Bartley

"The greatest advert for an Insta-matic camera ever!"
5 stars

We've all known them as children. Friends of our parents or elderly relatives who take just a slightly too keen interest in our activities. They seem friendly enough but with hindsight in later years seem a little creepy. The vast majority are undoubtedly harmless enough, but after watching Robin Williams in this you may just think again...

Williams plays Sy Parrish, the head of photo development at the local supermarket. He's a quiet, dedicated worker with no real life or family of his own who loves his job, in particular the photos that come from the Yorkin family. As he tells us in voiceover the Yorkins - Nina (Connie Nielsen), Will (Michael Vartan) and young Jake (Dylan Smith) - are like everybody else who takes photos: they only take photos of the happy times.

However, Sy more than likes the Yorkin family; he's obsessed by them. Printing off an extra set of photos each time for himself, he passes them off as his own family and imagines himself fitting into the family unit seamlessly (he tells Nina he thinks of himself as Uncle Sy). It's all harmless, if a little weird, until Sy first suffers a major setback in his own life and then finds cracks appearing in the Yorkins. Which is when his obsession really begins to spill out and alarm bells ring for the audience.

Williams is amazing. Love it or hate it, the one aspect about 'One Hour Photo' that everyone will agree on is that this is one of Williams finest performances, if not his best yet. He slowly drip feeds in more and more insights into Sy, so we alternately feel pity, revulsion and fear. Often at the same time or in the same scene. In one scene Sy sits by himself in a cafe, looking longingly through the latest batch of Yorkin photos. Your heart goes out for such a pitifully lonely man. But then you have him turning up at Jakes football training unannounced to ingratiate himself with a young boy, and your opinion starts to change.

It's to Williams immense credit that he never firmly divides opinion. Even when Sy is at his worst behaviour he's never wholly contemptible and you just can't condemn him outright. Yes Sy far oversteps the mark, but always retains a semblance of humanity and desperation that distinguishes him from the usual run-of-the-mill stalkers. It'll be criminal if he doesn't find himself on the Oscar shortlist next year. It's a great sign when you forget who you're actually watching after 10 minutes, and just watch the character instead,

The rest of the cast are overshadowed by Williams, but then the Yorkins are overshadowed by Sy. Their performances are all fine, particularly Smith who sums up the sensitive youngster who instinctivley trusts strangers.

But Williams also has a great script to work from. Writer/director Mark Romanek should also take some credit for keeping Sy plausible and not over the top. Stylistically, the film is equally as measured as Williams performance. Sy's life at work and home is shown in harsh, sterile lights highlighting the fact that there's nothing in Sy's life to live for. Even his costumes, plain blues and beiges, are dull and straight to the point of obsession. He goes home and he drinks plain old water in his plain old flat. It's a painfully plausible way of living for a lot of people. Romanek's direction is cleverly low-key keeping the feeling that this nightmare is happening in a very real suburban setting. At times he shows astounding flair however, such as when his camera suddenly zooms into the one William's is holding.

If there's one criticism it's that the story is too straightforward, and there's no real subtext. It feels at times that Romanek is being stretched for material and so inserts a couple of fantasy sequences to flesh out the running time. However as these are two of the best and most haunting sequences in the film you can't really complain. Particularly when Romanek fills the running time with a steadily mounting feeling of unease. The scene where we first realise the size of Sy's obsession is a horribly un-nerving moment. And the final image is one that will send you home with an uncomfortable feeling that you just won't shake for days. I'm still getting shivers from it now.

'One-Hour Photo' is ultimately a one-note affair, but what a note. William's tremendous performance, and Romanek's assured but subtle direction ensures a slow-burning creep-out that we haven't seen the like of for years. It'll make you think twice about who gets to see your photos developed.

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originally posted: 10/10/02 00:25:16
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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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