Oi oi, comin’ at ya wit’ another movie review, if a short one hopefully. I wasn’t expecting to get my write on but, then again, I also wasn’t expecting to enjoy this as much as I did, so let’s get it on.
After painstakingly developing the photos of a young family (I’m still gonna pretend I know what photo developing is) for years, Sy Parrish develops (YESYESYESYES) an obsession that, I think it’d be fair to say, borders on unhealthy? I’m kidding, he’s a loony.
Going against typecast like a bull with horns made of freight trains, Robin Williams turns out a chillingly off-kilter performance as the unstable Sy, a lonely photo tech who loves him some photos, especially when it’s of the Yorkins, a young family he’s been developing for for a long-ass time. The pedantic nature is portrayed brilliantly, with the character design and Williams’ own subtleties both going equal measures to ingrain him into our minds. Within the first 10 minutes, the loveable Mrs. Doubtfire is dead and we’re treated to something wholly different from the actor.
What was also very strong was the visual aspect of One Hour Photo. Though director Mark Romanek has very little under his feature belt, his music videos are the stuff of legend. Nine Inch Nails’ Closer, RHCP’s Can’t Stop, Johnny Cash’s Hurt and Michael Jackson’s Scream to name just a smidgen. This is shown tenfold in what we see here, with the stark white colour choices reflecting the main character and, much like in Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow, making the brief, and bloody, splashes of colour even more jarrin, with a particular MINOR SPOILERS-ISH, THE EFFECT IS BETTER WHEN YOU DON’T EXPECT IT SO I WOULDN’T IF I WERE YOU BUT IT ISN’T LIKE ESSENTIAL TO THE STORY, YUNNO? dream sequence having the visual effect of a punch in the stomach, especially at quarter-past midnight.
Against those two astonishing, amazing, movie-carrying aspects, however, it’s hard for much else to shine. While the twist on the ol’ “stalkery-thrillery-dramarery” genre is a welcome one, it’s not hard to pick apart the story into something we’ve seen in films like Cape Fear (to a greater extent of course). Though the supporting cast is very much supporting in the literal sense, I think they did a fine job of allowing Williams to truly shine, and that he did. That being said, I feel like some more experienced actors could’ve done the film a world of good, especially for the family. Now, I’m not shitting on what Connie Nielsen, Michael Vartan and Dylan Smith did particularly, I did feel like Charlize Theron could done something brilliant with that role, for example. I just felt like the film almost relied a little too much on Williams and, while he did more than step up to the challenge, had the weight been lifted from him, he could’ve given us an even better performance.
Overall, One Hour Photo is really excellent. Some stunning visuals by Romanek and DP Jeff Cronenweth (who did Fight Club for f*cks sake, so you know he’s good), plus a truly frightening and unexpected Robin Williams turn, made this something much more than it’s slightly formuliac veneer would suggest.
Lots of hugs, kisses and lacerations