and a psycho mini lab operator.
Repost of Review of One Hour Photo
Spoiler Alert: There are some minor spoilers so, if you are a movie purist and do not like reviews with spoilers, please do not go beyond this point.
One Hour Photo: You Gotta See How This One Develops!"
By Teddy Durgin
I often wonder when I take my photos in for processing if
the guy or the gal doing the developing is going to look at
the pics before he/she puts them in the envelope to await
my return. Will he/she like them? Will the photos get
passed around to the other workers in the shop? Is there
anything on the roll that I might be embarrassed by? These
are all questions I have asked myself at one time or
"One Hour Photo" (now playing in such cities as New York and
Chicago, rolling out gradually to other markets starting
Aug. 30) is one of those great and obvious ideas for a
movie that I'll wager dozens of screenwriters are now
slapping themselves on the head, asking, "Why didn't I
think of that?!" Robin Williams stars as Sy Parrish, a
lonely photo shop employee who develops an obsession with
the Yorkins, a seemingly idealic family whose pictures he
has developed for years.
At first, the obsession seems strange, yet oddly harmless.
Mom Yorkin (Connie Nielsen of "Gladiator") brings the
latest rolls of film in to Sy for developing just about
every week. The pictures are always of her and her husband
(Michael Vartan) and their young son, Jakob (Dylan Smith).
Through the photos, Sy has watched Jakob grow from a cute
baby to a sensitive boy in grade school, and he has watched
as Mom and Dad have only grown more close. The various
photos are of birthday parties, Christmas mornings, visits
to the beach and the local amusement park. The usual family
Sy doesn't appear to have a family or friends. He seems
unable to form real human attachments. When Nina Yorkin
asks for double prints, Sy writes triple prints on the
order form and keeps the extra set for himself. In his
mind, the Yorkins are everything he has ever wanted in a
family. He even dreams of being Jakob's "Uncle Sy," of
sharing the holidays with the family or just watching the
house for them while they are gone.
But there are no perfect families. Sy soon learns that all
is not well in the Yorkin household, that the family is
like most people. They don't take pictures of the bad
stuff, the arguments or the times where they aren't
speaking to one another. Sy's slow disappointment over the
Yorkins not being who he wants them to be, who he needs
them to be, turns his obsession into something dangerous
and puts into motion a series of events that could possibly
end in tragedy.
And that's all I'm tellin'!
"One Hour Photo" is a dark, riveting, little masterpiece of
a film that is gonna stay with me for a long time
afterwards. First and foremost, much credit has to go to
writer-director Mark Romanek, a former music video director
(best known for Nine Inch Nails' "Closer") who shows a
skillful and controlled hand in guiding his story into the
dark nether regions of a flawed human psyche. Romanek
doesn't waste one single moment in the film. There were so
many instances where this movie could have stepped wrong,
could have de-evolved into just another standard thriller
about a twisted sicko who turns predictably homicidal as his
obsession spins more and more out of control. Romanek never
lets his audience off that easy.
Robin Williams, I am happy to say, absorbs himself in the
character of Sy, inhabiting this tortured soul completely.
Not once does he resort to comfortable Williams' shtick.
Consequently, Sy is one of the most complex movie
characters I have seen in quite some time. Throughout the
film--and often in the same scene--we pity Sy, we
sympathize with him, we are repulsed by him, and we are
afraid of him. That we never stop feeling for Sy is a
credit to Williams, who has never been this controlled on
screen before. He changes his whole body, his whole
demeanor to fit Sy Parrish, and he never seems to be
straining against the character as written.
And while I have keyed you in on this movie's more
disturbing elements, "One Hour Photo" doesn't wallow in its
own grim reality. It takes time out to give us eloquent
insights into the role photos play in our life. There are
dream sequences sprinkled throughout--some darkly funny,
while others are deceptively frightening. And I loved the
montage of the various customers who are Sy's regulars, not
just the Yorkins but "the cat lady," "the insurance guy,"
and "the amateur pornographer."
But wait! There's more.
As just a pure exercise in cinema, "One Hour Photo"
features some of the most exciting filmmaking of the year.
Sitting here at my computer, two hours removed from the
picture, I want to go back and see this movie again
tomorrow just to witness the editing, the lighting, and the
cinematography again. Romanek finds so many interesting
ways to visually tell his story that we become immersed in
Sy's disturbing world.
Again, I go back to Romanek's uncompromising vision for the
story he has decided to tell us. In the press notes and in
various interviews, he has said he wanted to make a movie
that was reminiscent of the great "lonely guy" films of the
1970s, like "Taxi Driver" and "The Conversation." These
were gritty, intense, minimalist films that were both
disturbing and exhilarating at the same time. I think
Romanek has hit the mark here.
Part of the suspense in "One Hour Photo" are those frequent
moments where it looks like "One Hour Photo" is going to
compromise and go the way of countless, lesser films.
Romanek instead pulls back, takes his time. He zeroes in
on his subject, and brings the story into focus. In the
end, and only in the very end, does he show us the complete
"One Hour Photo" is rated R for sexual content and language.
READER UPDATE: My special recap of the 2002 summer movie
season is now available at www.flickville.com. Several
readers have written in, pointing out things that I
missed. For example, the award for the Best Opening
Sequence clearly should have gone to the cameo-filled first
10 minutes of "Austin Powers in Goldmember." Vin Diesel
was also cited by a couple of subscribers as being
Hollywood's Best New Action Hero for his star turn
in "XXX." I'd like to make special mention of the
outstanding avalanche sequence in that film. Finally, what
was my pick for the Best Movie Poster of the Summer?
Hmmmm. Several come to mind, including "Spider-Man," the
teaser for next year's "Matrix" sequels, and the one-sheet
for the little-seen "Cherish." If I had to pick one,
though, it would probably be John Sayles' "Sunshine State."
Copyright 2002 by DayTips.com, Inc.
All rights reserved.
"High Wired, Dream Sired"