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One Hour Photo (A Movie Review)


Starring Robin Williams. Connie Nielsen, Michael Vartan, Dylan Smith, Erin Daniels, Paul Hansen Kim, Eriq LaSalle and Gary Cole.

Screenplay by Mark Romanek.

Directed by Mark Romanek.

Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures. 98 minutes. Rated R.

Robin Williams' movie career had seemed to be stuck in a pool of dreck like Patch Adams and Bicentennial Man just a few months ago. Well, Williams recognized the danger he was in of becoming known as a sickly-sweet character actor and has reinvigorated his acting muscles by playing villains in three movies this year. The first one, Death To Smoochy, was a curious misfire. His chilling turn as a serial killer in Insomnia with Al Pacino was much better, but still essentially a supporting role.

On One Hour Photo he is finally able to show his range and it has rejuvenated my faith in Williams' acting career. His character of Sy Parrish, with a blond crew-cut and dead eyes, is sort of the anti-Robin Williams... a man who is so buttoned-down and repressed that no one can really know him except in the most superficial of ways.

Sy mans the photo counter in bright, fluorescent, mind-numbing discount superstore. He makes up for his lack of friends and a life by becoming obsessed with the Yorkins, a picture-perfect suburban happy family (Connie Nielsen, Michael Vartan and Dylan Smith) who has been bringing him his snapshots to develop for years. As Sy's delusions grow he starts to see himself as a part of the family... Uncle Sy… and starts inserting himself into their lives. He shows up at young Jake's soccer practice and follows wife Nina to the mall to "accidentally" run into her.

His fantasies finally run amuck once he loses his job because his boss (Gary Cole), a retail tyrant, stumbles on the fact that Sy has printed many extra, unpaid for, snapshots... although he does not get the significance of the act. This frees Sy up to follow his dream family, and when he realizes the father is having an affair, his by now slight thread of reality snaps. It is to writer/director Mark Romanek's credit that once this happens, Sy does not become a homicidal maniac... his reaction is more complex, and in many ways more disturbing. (9/02)

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright © 2002 All rights reserved. Posted: November 6, 2002.


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