One Hour Photo
"Writer/director Mark Romanek steers clear of the yearning pitfalls that we expect, delivering a conclusion that is both insightful and surprisingly original."

According to The Oxford English Dictionary, the word "snapshot" was originally a hunting term.

Seymour "Sy" Parrish (a blonde and balding Robin Williams) works at a photo counter in a shopping mall, processing people's lives in 24 exposure moments. He obsesses about the quality of the pictures, taking extreme care to provide the best possible service and get perfect prints for the customers he cares for.

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As events proceed, we realise that he is an emotional voyeur, using photographs as a surrogate family, wishing he was part of them, inside their homes, their lives, replacing depressing reality with something sweeter and more inclusive.

His apartment, sterile and devoid of personality, is filled with the snapshots of one family, the Yorkins, from middle-class suburbia, as far from Sy as possible, his dream existence.

Things begin to become unpleasant when he discovers that Will Yorkin (Michael Vartan) is having an affair with a co-worker. Sy decides to save "his" family.

We see the socially retarded Sy (Williams giving his best performance in years), as he yearns for the loving, comfortable lifestyles that he sees in the photographs, and as he strives to get closer to them in the only ways he can. As a stalker thriller, it is beautifully conceived.

Writer/director Mark Romanek steers clear of the yearning pitfalls that we expect, delivering a conclusion that is both insightful and surprisingly original. The style belays his work in the field of promos - he has directed videos for Nine Inch Nails, Madonna and Macy Gray. Scenes are beautifully set, clean and precise, with an artistic continuity that is rather wonderful.

The music is nicely fitting, strings and xylophone pieces, giving the proceedings an air of serene surreality, accompanied by an intelligent use of sound to highlight the intensity.

One Hour Photo is a big budget mainstream movie that manages to be entertaining and aesthetically pleasing. Hopefully, along with Insomnia, it will allow us to forgive Robin Williams for the past five years.

Reviewed on: 21 Aug 2002
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One Hour Photo packshot
Robin Williams assumes the stalker role in this offbeat thriller.
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Read more One Hour Photo reviews:

Amber Wilkinson ***1/2
Angus Wolfe Murray ***1/2

Director: Mark Romanek

Writer: Mark Romanek

Starring: Robin Williams, Connie Nielsen, Michael Vartan, Dylan Smith, Erin Daniels, Paul H. Kim, Lee Garlington, Gary Cole, Marion Calvert, David Moreland, Shaun P. O'Hagan

Year: 2002

Runtime: 98 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


EIFF 2002

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