One Hour Photo

2002

One Hour Photo

Critics Consensus

Robin Williams is very effective in this creepy, well-shot thriller.

81%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 196

64%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 177,675
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Movie Info

Funnyman Robin Williams steps out of character in this tense, low-key thriller that marked the feature-film directorial debut of music video veteran Mark Romanek. Semour "Sy" Parrish (Williams) runs the photo processing department at a large discount store; Sy is dedicated to his job, and takes great pride in his work. Sy's favorite customers are Nina and Will Yorkin (Connie Nielsen and Michael Vartan), an attractive and cheerful young couple with a nine-year-old boy, Jake (Dylan Smith). Sy dotes on the Yorkins and their son whenever they drop off film to be processed -- something they've been doing quite often ever since Jake was born -- and Nina and Will are indulgent of Sy's attentions, regarding his as a harmless eccentric. What the Yorkins don't know is Sy is a desperately lonely man with no real life of his own, and he's been obsessively making copies of their photos, for years, imagining himself to be "Uncle Sy," a member of the family. Sy's tenuous hold on reality begins to collapse when he develops a roll of film brought in by a new customer that suggests Will has been unfaithful to Nina; the notion that his ideal family may be falling apart is troubling enough for Sy, and when he loses his job, Sy reaches the breaking point. One Hour Photo was screened in competition at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Cast

Robin Williams
as Sy Parrish
Connie Nielsen
as Nina Yorkin
Michael Vartan
as Will Yorkin
Dylan Smith
as Jakob Yorkin
Erin Daniels
as Maya Burson
Paul H. Krim
as Yoshi Araki
Gary Cole
as Bill Owens
Eriq La Salle
as Det. James Van Der Zee
Paul H. Kim
as Yoshi Araki
Marion Calvert
as Mrs. Von Unwerth
David Moreland
as Mr. Siskind
Shaun P. O'Hagan
as Young Father
Jim Rash
as Amateur Porn Guy
Nick Searcy
as Repairman
Dave Engfer
as Sav-Mart Clerk
Jimmy Shubert
as Soccer Coach
Clark Gregg
as Det. Paul Outerbridge
Andrew A Rolfes
as Officer Lyon
Carmen Mormino
as Officer Bravo
Izrel Katz
as Superintendent
Peter Mackenzie
as Hotel Desk Manager
Robert Clotworthy
as Eye Surgeon
Wayne Wilderson
as Booking Clerk
Megan Corletto
as Risa Owens
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News & Interviews for One Hour Photo

Critic Reviews for One Hour Photo

All Critics (196) | Top Critics (44) | Fresh (159) | Rotten (37)

  • One Hour Photo is a very well-made thriller. It shows us Robin Williams extending his acting range into unusual and disturbing material. And as well as causing acute anxiety in its last reels, it delivers a more moral message than most of its kind.

    Dec 13, 2017 | Full Review…
  • This immaculately made first feature from noted musicvid and commercials director Mark Romanek provides Robin Williams with one of his creepiest, atypical roles, and the comic star responds with an unusually restrained performance...

    Mar 27, 2009

    Todd McCarthy

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • It has arresting things to say about how the family photo is used less to record than to project, and how far that projection can be from the truth.

    Jan 26, 2006 | Full Review…
    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Williams gives quite a performance. It's as if he's turned himself into a negative of his usual chipper self.

    Mar 7, 2003 | Full Review…
  • Former video director Mark Romanek has written and directed a very entertaining, if overdesigned movie.

    Nov 19, 2002 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Sy's scary ordinariness is a species of acting stunt. There's no there there.

    Sep 26, 2002

Audience Reviews for One Hour Photo

  • Aug 15, 2017
    One Hour Photo was unsettling to the core. Whoa. I mean, I actually felt uncomfortable watching this. I kept fidgeting! The whole premise and the realism of it just affected me greatly. This isn't just a typical psychological thriller where a crazy guy goes crazy and does crazy things. This is an intelligent study of a character who's loneliness and solitude has driven him to stalking a family. A photograph printer who sees into the lives of those that are within these pictures, he is able to imagine himself being in them. He clearly narrates that photographs are always taken on happy occasions, and never on the events that we wish to forget. I found that to be rather poignant. All he ever desired was to be loved or wanted, and yet he just existed. His days are just routines, his life being lived in the clinical colours of beige. So very monotonous. Another great narration was the etymology of the word "snapshot" which he said was a hunting term. A guy, with a camera, taking snapshots, of children. Powerful, absolutely compelling. Robin Williams yet again proved he was able to steer away from his typecast comedic roles and endeavour in more psychologically challenging performances. He was outstanding. The supporting cast were fine but Williams owned this whole film. Creepy yet with an undertone of melancholia. You can see how the screenplay manages to convince the audience that his mental state is of depression. We don't hate him, we actually sympathise instead. So many terrifying scenes, not in terms of horror but how realistically possible these scenarios are. Your child talking to a stranger and buying them gifts. A stranger waiting outside your house everyday. These stalker-like behaviour traits is ever so apparent in the current world. That's what makes this film so powerful. Realism. I wish we could've explored Sy "the photo guy's" past, I'm sure it would've been fascinating. It may not be a blockbuster thriller, but this little gem is one of Robin Williams' best performances.
    Luke A Super Reviewer
  • Jan 13, 2016
    William's portrayal of Sy "the Photo Guy" is so refreshingly sinister for him that he definitely carries the whole film. I think most people would be attracted to the film simply because of the ingenious idea behind the casting. His performance is severely underrated as is the film - I hadn't ever heard about it before watching it. People really should talk about One Hour Photo more. The Fatal Attraction-esque themes of insatiable obsession and dark and driven want are evident for sure. Williams' character is so fascinating to watch, however its hard for its audience to decide if he is three-dimensional on purpose or is it just an example of unsteady pacing and inconsistent character development? I hope and certainly believe that it is the former. The reason I can't give One Hour Photo a higher rating is because the ending is so rushed and extremely anti-climactic; just as the film really dives into a fun and terrifyingly fast pace it collapses with a fizzle rather than going off with a bang. Everything else is astounding.
    Harry W Super Reviewer
  • Feb 25, 2015
    Well shot with a winning performance from Williams.
    Joshua H Super Reviewer
  • Aug 27, 2014
    I've been meaning to watch this for some time and the recent passing of Robin Williams gave me a nudge in the ribs. I found One Hour Photo to be compelling and this is in the main because of Williams's performance. He is intense and certainly gets across a sense of loneliness that I couldn't help but feel sorry for. My overriding emotion towards his character Sy was not disgust or hatred but instead more pity and however misguided his actions I did see his point. Sy is a photo developer for a Wall Mart style chain and has been so for over a decade. He is a solitary character whose job gives him a unique insight into the lives of others. This ranges from mad old bats who take photos of their cats and men who take pictures of their lovers in compromising positions. Possibly to fill the void in his own life he involves himself in the life of one family who are regular customers to the point where he stalks them and try's all kinds of methods to worm his way into the families affections. Through his job he learns of a betrayal within that family that tips him over the edge and leads him to behave in an inappropriate manner. The subject matter will not be to everyone's tastes and some might find it a little disturbing. Williams is excellent as Sy and it seemed to me that life and people in general got some kind of perverse pleasure out of figuratively kicking him in the privates. His boss for example clearly had a dislike for him and I felt he enjoyed twisting the knife when firing him from a job that Sy not only loved but was everything to him. Maybe that's one moral of the story, be kind to those less fortunate than you or face the possible consequences. I can certainly understand the notion of those who are privileged not always appreciating what they have and how from the outside looking in its those who perhaps don't deserve it who get the breaks? I guess maybe its human nature to want something we don't have and the Sy's of this world are destined to be denied a love that they would respect and cherish if they had it.
    Justin F Super Reviewer

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