Review: One Hour Photo

Robin Williams as a disgruntled-photo-lab-employee-cum-creep-with-a-heart-of-gold?

One Hour Photo
Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Robin Williams as a disgruntled-photo-lab-employee-cum-creep-with-a-heart-of-gold? If One Hour Photo’s well-duh casting coup is more or less a non-issue (as Seymour Parrish, Williams typically calls attention to himself), there’s still the matter of music-video maker Mark Romanek’s gratuitous use of voiceover. Despite a perceptive observation or two (“I cared enough in this world for someone to take my picture” and “No one takes a photograph of something they want to forget”), Seymour’s metaphysical commentary track is a shameless declaration of the film’s subtext. Not unlike the pictures Seymour develops for his customers, Romanek’s arresting images-as-snapshots speak for themselves, evoking the false reality of the film’s picket-fence suburbia. The lonely Parrish becomes obsessed with the seemingly perfect Yorkin family: father Will (Michael Vartan) brings home the bacon; little Jake (Dylan Smith) plays soccer; and mother Nina (Connie Nielsen) smothers everyone with not-everyone-is-lucky-like-we-are care. When Will strays from the herd, he’s incriminated via a roll of film his mistress brings to the local SavMart. Romanek’s frame-within-a-frame compositions seemingly engage Rear Window when Parrish scoffs at the Yorkin family’s put-on happy domesticity. Even the smaller details speak for themselves: an error on Nina’s print form foreshadows Parrish’s photo-mosaic; a copy of Deepak Chopra’s Path to Love suggests something may be missing from Nina’s life; and an episode of The Simpsons holds a tongue-in-cheek mirror up to the Yorkin family breakdown. And while the film’s stalker subplot is rote, Parrish nonetheless makes for a fascinating, albeit second-rate sex-pervert. He believes so much in his philosophy of photography that he stalks with humanity.

Score: 
 Cast: Robin Williams, Connie Nielson, Michael Vartan, Dylan Smith, Gary Cole, Eriq La Salle, Erin Daniels  Director: Mark Romanek  Screenwriter: Mark Romanek  Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures  Running Time: 98 min  Rating: R  Year: 2002  Buy: Video, Soundtrack

Ed Gonzalez

Ed Gonzalez is the co-founder of Slant Magazine. His writing has also appeared in The Village Voice and The Los Angeles Times. He’s a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, the Critics Choice Association, and the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association.

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