Middle aged Sy Parrish works as a technician at a one hour photo lab located in a SavMart store in a suburban mall. Sy is a lonely man, never having had any friends. He knows much about his customers through the photographs they have developed. But he knows more about the Yorkin family - specifically Nina Yorkin and her adolescent son Jake Yorkin, the two in the family who drop off and pick up the family's photofinishing - the family about whom he is obsessed, than anyone else. Nina's husband, Will Yorkin, is incidental to his obsession since Sy has only seen him in photographs. Sy's obsession includes fantasizing about being their favorite "Uncle Sy". He has even been making an extra set of prints for himself of all of their photographs since Jake was a newborn. After an incident at work and after Sy finds out more about the family through a set of photographs, he decides to right the injustices he sees in the only way he knows how. His actions demonstrate his true mental state. Written by
Mr. Williams Steals The Show In This Clever Little Chiller
On face value, 'One Hour Photo' may seem like an average thriller but you'll be in for a surprise if you think so. It is a clever little movie that works both as a psychological thriller and an intriguing character study. Thankfully it does not have the absurd twists one has witnessed in the overrated 'Fatal Attraction' or nonsensical ones like in 'Single White Female' or 'The Hand That Rocks the Cable'. The storytelling is very coherent and the portrayal of the characters is very subtle.
This isn't a fast-paced thriller. Writer and director Romanek takes his time to tell the story but that does not make 'One Hour Photo' boring. On the contrary, it allows us to discover the shades of Seymour and allows the viewer to feel sympathy for but also be fear of him. Likewise, we also discover the family Seymour/Sy stalks. At first they appear to be like a happy American family but soon we see, through Seymour's point of view, that reality is something else. Romanek creates a very gloomy cold atmosphere. The viewer does feel Seymour's loneliness from the busy supermarket to his claustrophobic apartment. The film is very well shot as it highlights the gloominess, indifference and closed atmosphere. Romanek also approaches interesting themes about what photographs mean i.e. proof of ones existence (beautifully explained in the film). While people take pictures of happy moments, their reality is something else.
Coming to the performances, what would 'One Hour Photo' be without Robin Williams? The actor is in a completely different form and he does an excellently downplays Sy. Sy is gentle, polite, pathetic and creepy. Williams really brings a humane quality to the character rather than portray him as the clichéd stalker. Nielsen and Vartan are good too. La Salle and Cole give sufficient support. But, in the end, it's a one man show that belongs to Mr. Williams.
There are a few very minor flaws such as a few scenes where reality is suspended but overall this is a cleverly chilling film that deserves to be watched but do not expect lots of murder, bloodshed, or silly twists like boiling a live rabbit.
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