One Hour Photo review by The Grim Ringler

One Hour Photo

I meant to do this last week, when I saw the movie, but eh, what can ya do? Review the damn movie, thats what. Ha! Now odds are you have heard a little something about this since, in all honesty, you may never see a better Robin Williams performance again. Not that he is a bad actor at all, though he is finally taking some acting risks, but because a bad actor makes Sy(Williams character) a madman, a mediocre actor makes Sy a creep, but a good actor, a very good actor, makes Sy a tragic victim of his own loneliness. And as good as the movie is, it hinges on how Williams portrays Sy, and his portrayal is spot on.

The story follows Sy, a shy and quiet man working in the photo lab of a huge department store (think WalMart in Hell). While we never really know for certain until later in the film, Sy is a lonely man. A man so lonely in fact that he begins to see the customers, his customers, as his surrogate family. Especially one family in particular, the Yorkins, who couldnt be more perfect in Sys eyes. There is the gorgeous young mother, boy sweet and caring, the loving son, and a father that is both handsome and successful. They are perfect. And in Sys world, they are his family. But as the movie progresses, and Sys loneliness starts to sicken his heart and mind, the film reveals that the family isnt as they perfect as Sy sees them, and that Sy is not as benign as people believe him to be. And as the Yorkins secrets leak out Sys loneliness turns to madness and the cracks in his mind widen to gulfs which threaten to swallow all that come into his path.

This is Robin Williams movie. Sure, its Mark Romaneks big feature debut, and he does a great job, especially on getting the sets of the department store dead on, but if Williams doesnt pull off the right menace and sympathy with his character, the movie is lost. Its a joke. But as I said above, Williams is dead on perfect. Through the entire movie you are waiting for Sy to break, to melt down and lay waste to all he sees. But the movie goes on and on without it happening, but we know its there, we see it in Williams eyes, waiting like a caged animal to escape. And I really have to say, it wont happen, but I wouldnt mind seeing him get nominated for an Oscar. He is that good in this role.

Romanek keeps us guessing the entire way though, starting the movie out with Sy in jail and being questioned, leaving us to wonder what he did and to whom. And in the end its almost worse than what we had imagined, not because of what he did, but because of what he didnt do. And at the end, when we learn what it is that made Sy what he is, who he is, our hearts finally break for him, a man-child that was never allowed to be a real person. And yeah, that parts a bit much, but it works, because, again, Williams makes it work.

If you have ever seen a European thriller, One Hour Photo will really seem familiar as it is shot and made just like one of those films. Very stark, very bleak, and very compelling. This is not a throw-away thriller where all the questions are answered and everyone walks away happy at the end and the monster is vanquished, no, if anything, we find that in the end, there are more monsters in this film than we had ever suspected. A very good film. I am glad its doing well because America could use more dark, honest thrillers and not the crap we end up getting. c


8 out of 10 Jackasses

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