One Hour Photo

It can be hard to remember that Robin Williams won an Oscar only five years ago. In the meantime, he usually chose roles that highlighted his comic talented for improvisation or spotlighted his talent for choosing cheesy roles. Apparently, something clicked, and Williams has been broadening his acting horizons in recent projects. Death to Smoochy and Insomnia showed that he could play it straight, and even be the bad guy. One Hour Photo completes this 'trilogy,' and is Williams' best performance in a long time as Sy Parrish, the guy that works in the photo department of the SavMart.

Parrish is the kind of guy that people need to take the time to notice. He is extremely unassuming to the point of blandness. Everything about him in bland, from his personality to his appearance and penchant for bathing his apartment and all his clothes in white or light blue. But it's the quiet ones people need to worry about. Because Sy has no discernible life of his own, he lives vicariously through the Yorkins, a family that brings in their film for him to develop. For nearly a decade, he watched their lives progress through their pictures to the point where he has an unhealthy obsession with them. He makes extra prints of their photos for himself for a giant mural in his apartment, and even sits outside their house in his car.

The Yorkins represent everything that Sy is missing. Nina (Connie Nielsen, Gladiator, Mission to Mars) is a beautiful and caring mother, Will (Michael Vartan, It Had to Be You, The Next Best Thing) is a loving husband and father and owns his own business, and Jakob (Dylan Smith) is the quintessential cute kid. What Sy doesn't realize is that he is only seeing a small part of their lives, the part that they want to remember. The Yorkins are like any other family; they have good points and they have flaws. When Sy discovers these flaws, it upends his entire view of the world. The Yorkins are his idea of perfection, so they cannot do anything wrong.

One Hour Photo works because the Sy character is so creepy. He speaks slowly, walks slowly, and does everything in a steady, measured manner. Writer/director Mark Romanek, who worked previously in music videos, does a good job of pacing the movie. It marches steadily forward, towards a point where Parrish will inevitably crack. It also works because everybody knows how Williams is. He is holding in his natural urge to be annoying, instead focusing it all on internalizing it within Sy. The tone of One Hour Photo mimics that of Sy. It begins with false sense of complacency. As Sy becomes more unbalanced, the pace of the film picks up a little, and events begin to spiral towards their conclusion.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Good.
1 hour, 38 minutes, Rated R for sexual content and language.

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