One Hour Photo Reviews
There's something spectacular about making a creepy person also a tiny bit sympathetic. Not everyone can pull this off, and anyone who does is commendable, as it shows that not everyone is developed into black and white caricatures. Some good people have bad sides, and some bad people have good sides.
Some of Sy's thoughts are endearing. Some are downright eerie. This makes him far more interesting than many standard villains.
The plot kept me invested and curious, right up until the very end. Would definitely watch this one again.
You can't help but feel bad for Sy "the photo guy" Parrish (Robin Williams), the socially awkward film developer at the local SavMart. Developing film is his life. He has no family, no significant other to come home to. His intent focus on his work results in Sy taking a liking to the customers that visit his section of the store: namely, the Yorkin family consisting of Will (Michael Vartan), Nina (Connie Nielsen), and their son Jake (Dylan Smith). Perhaps he takes this liking too far, but he doesn't mean any harm. He's lonely, and would give anything to find a family of his own that would accept him. With the Yorkin family, he believes he's found just that. It's a case of finding identity for someone who has none of their own.
It just so happens that Sy has picked a family that is not the picture perfect family he's imagined them to be. The Yorkins have problems in their home, and Sy feels obligated to do something about them. It's here where we see the other side of Sy. His sympathetic side goes into hiding, and a much darker side takes control. Romanek amps up the tension here, but does so slowly and deliberately. The metaphorical guitar string is continuously wound and wound and wound, with Jeff Cronenweth's haunting cinematography filling our vision and the two sides of Sy pulling our conscience in two different directions.
This is a character that needs a strong actor to work effectively, and Robin Williams is the perfect man for the job. It's almost polarizing to see an actor known primarily for lighthearted comedies a such a dark, complex character, but here, Williams proves himself as a dramatic actor in what may very well be the standout performance of his industrious career. His familiar sense of warmth works well for the awkward but relatable side of Sy, but as things progress into darker territory, Williams has no trouble unleashing his sinister side in a believable manner.
Anchored by Williams' intense performance, Romanek has crafted a slow-burn drama with a lot more to say than meets the eye, delivered with a refreshing degree of ambiguity not present in many movies. It's the kind of psychological thrill ride that throws you for a loop without many actual thrills.