×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

One Hour Photo

An odd little premise is developed in surprisingly effective ways in "One Hour Photo." This immaculately made first feature from noted musicvid and commercials director Mark Romanek provides Robin Williams with one of his creepiest, atypical roles, and the comic star responds with an unusually restrained performance that is, in the end, quite moving.

With:
Seymour "Sy" Parrish - Robin Williams
Nina Yorkin - Connie Nielsen
Will Yorkin - Michael Vartan
Bill Owens - Gary Cole
Jake Yorkin - Dylan Smith
Detective Van Der Zee - Eriq La Salle
Maya Burson - Erin Daniels

An odd little premise is developed in surprisingly effective ways in “One Hour Photo.” This immaculately made first feature from noted musicvid and commercials director Mark Romanek provides Robin Williams with one of his creepiest, atypical roles, and the comic star responds with an unusually restrained performance that is, in the end, quite moving. Supported by good reviews, Fox Searchlight should be able to cultivate a sizeable audience in broad specialized release for this offbeat but accessible picture.

His Oscar for “Good Will Hunting” notwithstanding, Williams’ occasional departures from his comic persona have not always been well received, and he is definitely working in a different gear as Sy Parrish, a blandly fastidious photo developer at the giant Savmart discount store. With pale skin and thinning cross-cropped blond hair, Sy almost blends in with the decor and bright lighting of the establishment, where he prides himself on the exacting standards of his work.

Among his favorite customers are the well-to-do Yorkins, who, to Sy, look like the ideal family: Nina (Connie Nielsen) is fashion-model gorgeous, Will (Michael Vartan) could be a movie or rock star and 9-year-old Jake (Dylan Smith) is a fine normal kid. Whenever they come in, Sy is solicitous to the edge of obsequiousness. But the weird nature of Sy’s attachment to the Yorkins is revealed when, after dining alone in a coffee shop, he returns to his forlorn little downtown apartment, an entire wall of which is covered with hundreds of pictures of Nina, Will and Jake through the years, copies of which Sy has surreptitiously printed at work.

Without any personal life of his own, Sy has become an emotional, rather than voyeuristic, peeping Tom, willing himself figuratively into the Yorkin family. In a fantasy, he makes himself at home in their house when they’re away, he visits Jake at soccer practice and offers the boy a present that Will won’t buy for him. His attentions, while excessive, never really seem threatening, although there is obviously such a degree of loneliness and apartness about the man that it wouldn’t be surprising if something unsavory were to one day come bubbling to the surface.

And so it does when Sy is abruptly fired from his beloved job. At nearly the story’s halfway mark, Sy is let go when his supervisor (Gary Cole) discovers the huge discrepancy between the number of photos paid for and actually printed. At the same time, Sy’s world is further shattered when photos left by a sexy customer suggest that she’s having an affair with Will. Deeply distressed that “his” perfect family has been poisoned, Sy gives copies of the photos to Nina and begins spying on Will, thus initiating an increasingly sick form of revenge on the man who he feels has thrown away the most precious thing in the world, the sort of happiness that proves unattainable for so many people, Sy included.

As curious a character as Sy is, and as misguided as his eventual actions become, the story is saved from slipping off into the simply macabre by its emotional validity. At the very end, however, too explicit a point is made for Sy’s deep-rooted psychological problems, as Romanek makes easy use of a pat explanation for aberrant behavior even as he leaves matters on an open note.

While remaining within a narrow expressive range as dictated by the circumscribed nature of his role, Williams keeps Sy interesting all the way and crucially resists playing for sympathy and sentimentality. Other significant cast members, including Nielsen, Vartan, Smith and Eriq La Salle as a police detective, are solid in an understated manner.

From a technical point of view, the film is nearly as fastidious as Sy himself. Cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth’s clean and crisp compositions, Tom Foden’s elegantly spare production design and Jeffrey Ford’s no-fat editing all function like precision instruments in helping Romanek create a pristine-looking picture, and the outstanding electronic score by Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek helps channel the various moods in subtle ways.

One Hour Photo

Production: A 20th Century Fox release of a Fox Searchlight Pictures presentation in association with Catch 23 Entertainment of a Killer Films/Madjak Films production. Produced by Christine Vachon, Pamela Koffler, Stan Wlodkowski. Executive producers, Robert B. Sturm, Jeremy W. Barber, John Wells. Directed, written by Mark Romanek.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color), Jeff Cronenweth; editor, Jeffrey Ford; music, Reinhold Heil, Johnny Klimek; music supervisor, Chris Douridas; production designer, Tom Foden; art director, Michael Manson; set designers, Carl Stensel, Glenn Rivers; set decorator, Tessa Posnanski; costume designer, Arianne Phillips; sound (Dolby), Richard Van Dyke; supervising sound editor, Andrew De Cristofaro; sound designer, Brian Emrich; assistant director, Noga Isackson; casting, Deborah Aquila, Trisha Wood. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Premiere), Jan. 13, 2002. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 95 MIN.

With: Seymour "Sy" Parrish - Robin Williams
Nina Yorkin - Connie Nielsen
Will Yorkin - Michael Vartan
Bill Owens - Gary Cole
Jake Yorkin - Dylan Smith
Detective Van Der Zee - Eriq La Salle
Maya Burson - Erin Daniels

More Film

  • Apollo 11

    Film News Roundup: 'Armstrong' Doc Set for Release on 50th Anniversary of Moon Landing

    In today’s film news roundup, a Neil Armstrong documentary and “The Invisible Man” get release dates, “Forrest Gump” and “Saving Private Ryan” get re-released and Patrick Fugit gets cast. RELEASE DATES Gravitas Ventures has bought worldwide rights to the Neil Armstrong documentary “Armstrong” and will open the film on July 12 in theaters and on [...]

  • Inside Goop's Wellness Summit With Gwyneth

    Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop Summit Proves Hollywood Retirement Is Working for Her

    Across the country on Saturday, movie theaters sold over $12 million in tickets to “Avengers: Endgame,” helping it amass $771 million in the U.S. since its release in April. On the same day, in a stunning urban greenhouse complex in DTLA, the film’s supporting star Gwyneth Paltrow counted tickets of her own — pricey, perk-loaded [...]

  • Johnny Depp

    Johnny Depp's Ex-Lawyers Claim He Owes $350,000

    Johnny Depp was hit with a $350,000 lawsuit on Monday from a law firm that claims he has not paid his bills. Depp retained Buckley LLP in the fall of 2017 to sue his former entertainment law firm, Bloom Hergott LLP, which he accused of pocketing $30 million in fees without a written agreement. Three [...]

  • Keanu Reeves stars as 'John Wick'

    'John Wick 4' Confirmed With a 2021 Release Date

    John Wick will be back in exactly two years and a day. Lionsgate announced Monday that it has scheduled “John Wick 4” for May 21, 2021. The studio made the announcement via a text message to fans: “You have served. You will be of service. John Wick: Chapter 4 is coming – May 21, 2021.” [...]

  • Krysanne Katsoolis Sets Up Viewpark With

    Krysanne Katsoolis Sets Up Viewpark With $200 Million Fund

    Veteran film industry executive Krysanne Katsoolis has launched Viewpark, which will finance, package and release high-end film and TV content. Viewpark has partnered with former Wall Street executive Keith Price’s Obsidian Asset Management to create a multi-million dollar fund for the production and marketing of its slate, Katsoolis told Variety. Obsidian, based in London and [...]

  • Elle FanningChopard Trophee dinner, 72nd Cannes

    Elle Fanning Faints at Cannes Dinner Party

    Elle Fanning, a member of this year’s Cannes jury, had a brief scare Monday night when she fainted at the Chopard Trophee dinner. Festival director Thierry Fremaux had just introduced actor Francois Civil onstage when Fanning, star of “The Beguiled” and “Maleficent,” collapsed and fell off her chair nearby. Fanning was sitting at a table [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content