One Hour Photo (2002)

one hour photo poster 2002 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Different type of mystery-suspense thriller

Sometimes intentional undercuts hurt the story

Movie Info

Movie Name:  One Hour Photo

Studio:  Searchlight Pictures/Catch 23 Entertainment/Killer Films

Genre(s):  Mystery/Suspense/Drama

Release Date(s):  January 13, 2002 (Sundance)/September 13, 2002 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

one hour photo film processing sy robin williams

Sy watches over all…

Sy Parrish (Robin Williams) is the developer at Savmart and feels he has a real relationship with his customers…a very close relationship.  Sy is obsessed with the Yorkins.  Will Yorkin (Michael Vartan), Nina Yorkin (Connie Nielsen), and their son Jake Yorkin (Dylan Smith) seem to have the perfect lives and Sy wishes he was with them.  When he has problems with work and uncovers a secret about Will, he sets out to protect his family…at any cost.

Written and directed by Mark Romanek, One Hour Photo is a suspense psychological thriller.  The movie premiered at Sundance before being released later in 2002 and received positive reviews.

Dramatic Robin Williams sometimes is good and sometimes it isn’t.  He always feels very inconsistent.  One Hour Photo feels like a different type of movie for Williams who generally plays the good guy.  Here he plays a bad guy, but a bad guy you do feel sorry for.

one hour photo robin williams sy parrish christmas fantasy

It’s a Very Sy Christmas

The movie has a bit of an odd framework in that you have Sy being interviewed by the police and questioned about what he did…as a basis for a thriller, this would intentionally indicate that Sy lives through whatever event occurs during the course of the film…which potentially could undercut any big moments.  It is an odd choice for a thriller.  It works in this case, but it sets up a different thriller storyline than expected.  One Hour Photo becomes an almost anti-thriller by focusing on the drama at the end.

Robin Williams is still kind of Robin Williams, but he does do creepy well.  Along with Insomnia (which was also released in 2002), William showed he could play a villain.  Connie Nielsen is a nice lead and Dylan Smith isn’t a bad child actor.  The movie also has small roles by Eric La Salle and Clark Gregg as the police investigating the crime.  There is a cameo by comedian Jim Rash as an amateur porn photographer…and you get Gary Cole playing a frustrating manager (again).

one hour photo maya will sex photo shoot michael vartan erin daniels

We are really bad at foreplay

The movie is pretty stylishly shot.  Williams’ character is plagued by visions and some of them are rather visual.  It is a rather decent thriller in that sense and that has held up.  It is the type of thriller that borderlines horror in how it is shot and portrayed, but it also dives deep into drama.

One Hour Photo does ask some interesting questions about memories and how well we know the people around us.  There are some basic plotting decisions that feel a little underwhelming (though the low-key nature of the movie is part of the purpose of the film), but overall the decisions don’t override the good of the film.  You feel bad for Sy, but Sy gets himself in his own trouble…and which the switch to digital, Sy would have been out of the job anyway (so don’t get too upset).

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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