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One Hour Photo

Starring: Robin Williams, Connie Nielsen, Michael Vartan and Dylan Smith
Directed & Written by: Mark Romanek
Rated: R

 

 

You own a digital camera yet? You will when I get done with this review. Robin Williams plays a disturbed bland fellow that will have shivers running up and down your spine for days after the viewing. Why? He's so normal. Blah. Bland. Well until….

Writer/director Mark Romanek' has created an eerie disturbing and exact case study on the madness that simmers just below the surface. His script also gives Robin Williams yet another, and perhaps his strongest, stroll into the role opposite of light hearted. Robin leaps off the screen and into your psyche as a disturbing villain that one still can't help buy care about. Williams is truly an acting power in this psychological thriller .

Seymour "Sy" Parrish (Robin - The Independent Spirit Awards 2003 will notice, don't fret- Williams) is a nine to five film developer at the local SavMart. He develops others dreams, joys and life experiences.

He is a pinch meticulous with one family in particular, the Yorkins. Sy lives vicariously through this friendly happy family unit. There's Nina (Connie Nielsen), Will (Michael Vartan) and their lad, little Jakob (Dylan Smith). The perfect family snapshot….

In fact he likes these folks so very much he gets doubles of each and everyone of their photos - through out the years! Yep, he's going Norman Bates on us!

Of course if anyone - but the kid no one would listen to - noticed the "breakdown-comin'-your-way-aisle-three" signs….or listened to what the man actually says….like, "If these pictures have anything to say to future generations it is this…. I was here…I existed….and someone cared enough about me to take my picture" . They would pick up on the fact that that is not a normal way to react to pictures, um, clue Yorkin family this guy's insane-o-rama!

One Hour Photo is just plain old creepy. Williams's delivery of the oddball you see everyday and dismiss as just a pinch off, yet harmless, is utterly nightmare inducing. I was much nicer to the Quickie Mart guy today when I picked up my daily coffee I tell you! And the style of the film is so sublime and cleverly painted with its brightness and generic "cold" feel when the sh** hits the fan it is all the more disturbing. The production designer Tom Foden and cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth, together with customer Arianne Phillips (a personal fave) combined with the dotted spine tingling soundtrack by the dou Johnny Klimek and Reinhold Heil pull you in to this funny little world director Romanek has Sy exist in. In fact I feel even Sy "Parrish" himself may be writer Romanek's clever form of a sub textually hinting to the fact that things are not always as they seem; since the character's namesake evokes images of Maxwell Parrish the bright and vivid painter and yet we get Seymour Parrish the bland worker bee stuck in a fluorescent wash of mundane hues. Or I could have just thought too deep….

Is One Hour Photo a unique Film? No. And there are some flaws sprinkled in with the brilliance. But the mistakes are so muted by Williams's delightful delivery of the diabolically dismissed Sy and the fore mentioned attention to cinematic details, they seem hardly worth commenting on. This is a different and strange psychological thriller. You like the odd and quirky bits one find in the little theater, like myself, run and see this. You don't? See a blockbuster in the corporate owned multiplex next door.

Remember digital cameras use a firewire to download directly into your computer and you can purchase a nice Epson photo printer….thusly cutting out the "Sy" in your life.

Snack Recommendation: Anything but counter food from the SavMart - employees dine there…

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