As if Robin Williams was not already one of the most successful and well-rounded actors in the business, what with an Oscar, Emmys and even Grammys, but “One Hour Photo” just proves what everybody should have already known; Robin Williams is one of the great versatile actors of our time.
The beginning drags, slow and methodically, setting up an ordinary setting to be creepy, even frightening. This uneventful opening is not a boring one, but a haunting one. It pounds on you without your realizing it, like a nightmare where everything around you is silent, except perhaps for an unidentifiable hum in the far regions of the silence, and the fear is right around the corner. This does not set up for a ‘jump-out-and-scare-you’ type of horror, but a psychological, almost Hitchcock-like terror.
Sy Parrish is the lonely photo clerk at the counter of a SavMart. His undying loyalty to his customers and the perfect pictures he prides his life on submerges him in the lives of those he serves. The unfortunate family to have the most appeal to him is the Yorkin family, which seems to be perfect through their pictures. But like Sy tells us, who would ever take pictures of the bad times?
As he builds his fictional relationship with this family he courageously starts to encounter them outside the store. It is a stalking, but with more depth. He feels acquainted, like family, so he feels they are obligated and as he discovers the flaws that infect the Yorkin’s, as they infect all of us, his mind starts to lose its touch with reality and he finally… well, I can’t give it away.
“One Hour Photo” is remarkable. Do not take that the wrong way, there were shortcomings that hinder the final grade, but overall, it was a very well constructed piece of film. The writer/director, Mark Romanek, developed an idea that could haunt any everyday person who has ever put their name, address, phone number and e-mail address on any little form without giving it a second thought. Who sees this? Who wants this? What will that information be used for? And now, worst of all, who sees those ‘private’ pictures we all take? He took his idea, wrote it out in a technically perfect script and served it more justice than it deserved by directing it with mastery.
There is a nightmare within this nightmare that lasts for about fifteen seconds, and that one image is still in my head. It will always be in my head. Robin Williams, Michael Vartan (“Never Been Kissed), Connie Nielsen (“Gladiator”), and Gary Cole (“Office Space”) prove to everyone they do not have to play their stereotypical or type-casted roles. They all delivered and helped make this fine picture. B.
Suggestions with Robin Williams; “Death to Smoochy,” “Insomnia,” “Dead Poets Society,” “The World According to Garp,” “The Fisher King,” “Good Will Hunting,” “Good Morning Vietnam,” “Aladdin,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Patch Adams,” “Deconstructing Harry,” “The Birdcage,” “What Dreams May Come,” “Hook,” “Toys,” “Awakenings,” “Cadillac Man,” “Popeye.”