One Hour Photo  (2002)


Ebert:1/2 Rolling Stone:1/2 TV Guide:1/2

Warning, minor plot points revealed!

What will Robin Williams do next?  It's the question you, no doubt, find yourself asking more and more.  Or perhaps, you just rail against the sky and say "Mork!  What has become of Thee?"  

With One Hour Photo Robin has completed his triumvirate of evil.  He's showed us his redeemable corrupt psycho "Death to Smoochy", his clever circumstantial killer "Insomnia", and now the dangerously creepy yet vulnerable and endearing lunatic in One Hour Photo.

This is the story of Seymour Parrish, the guy that works in the one hour photo lab at your local retail superstore.  Over the long lonely years Sy has become fixated on the life of one of the families who he develops for.  They're just a regular suburban family with a husband who happens to be having an affair at work.  Sy discovers this as he crosses the sanity threshold and begins to insert himself into their lives.  

I've never been a huge Robin Williams fan.  I kinda liked Mork and Mindy when I was a kid but I had a huge crush on Pam Dawber so Mork was really a peripheral character to me.  As far as his stand-up comedy, his zany out of control high energy performances were fun to watch but the jokes only paid off about 25% of the time.  I read an article a few days ago where he said that he did a lot of coke in his younger days, so I suppose can't blame him for the frenzy.   He dropped off my radar for a while then started making movies that I didn't really like.  I know this will stir controversy and confusion faithful readers, but I didn't like Good Will Hunting, Dead Poets Society, The World According to Garp, The Survivors, Moscow on the Hudson, Club Paradise, Good Morning Vietnam, Cadillac Man, Toys, Jack...  However I have liked his last three.  Death to Smoochy is funny enough to watch, Insomnia is just a really great movie, and One Hour Photo is disturbing depressing furrat at its best.  (I just made up "furrat".  Its a new adjective, start using it!) 

If I were to say I had any problem with the movie it would be that Sy is really too sympathetic a character to truly fear or despise.  On the surface and in reality his obsession and insanity are obvious but when weighed against his lonely, suffering life of hopeless despair his crimes seem less significant and mostly harmless.  I know he snaps and kind of loses it at the end but only after his initial attempts at friendly association fail miserably.  You feel sorry for him from the first seconds of the film to the very end.  He's not a bad guy.  The failures and sadness of his life have forced his hand. 

One Hour Photo is a good film.  It forces you to recognize how much better off you are than some and how your depression and problems are really insignificant when compared to the guy at the Walmart One Hour Photo Booth.