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One Hour Photo (2002)

A photo developer becomes dangerously obsessed with a customer’s family.

Directed by:

Mark Romanek

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 91 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Robin Williams is Seymour Parrish, otherwise known as 'Sy the Photo Guy', an isolated middle-aged man who works as a developer at the one-hour-photo desk in a large store. For years he has been obsessed with photographs and the people in them, especially the Yorkin family – Will, Nina and nine-year-old son Jake (Michael Vartan, Connie Nielsen and Dylan Smith). Secretly he has been making extra personal copies of photos of the people who interest him, and he now has a whole wall at home displaying Yorkin family photos dating right back to when Jake was a baby.

After his manager notices that the tally of prints reported by the developing machine does not match the records of those sold – hundreds of prints are missing – Sy is fired, which pushes his obsessions over the boundary from fantasy to reality. He begins by exposing to Nina a secret affair that Will is having with another woman. Sy also takes his revenge for being fired by arranging for his ex-boss to see secretly-taken photographs of his young daughter, and the threatened man calls in the police. A search warrant served on Sy's house turns up his wall of photographs of the Yorkin family, with all the images of Will's face scratched out. Nina is told, and tries to contact Will who is in a hotel room with his mistress, but the telephone in the room is never answered.

The film is a little slow to start, though in part the slower segments are necessary to demonstrate Sy's relationship with his customers and their photographs. As the story develops, it becomes a taut thriller with more than one twist in its tail – a psychological drama rather than a stalk-and-slash film. Robin Williams is outstanding in the role of the quiet, conservative and serious Sy, proving that he is much more than just a comedy actor. Sadly, the characters of the Yorkin family are rather two-dimensional, which makes it hard to feel for them or sympathise with their situation.

It's Got: An outstanding performance by Robin Williams, and a truly chilling premise.

It Needs: More depth to the characters of the Yorkin family.

DVD Extras The ‘Anatomy of a Scene’ featurette is particularly interesting, looking at the process of turning the script into a film. Extras: Commentary by Director Mark Romanek and Robin Williams, ‘Making of One Hour Photo’ featurette, Interview with Robin Williams and Mark Romanek, ‘Anatomy of a Scene’ featurette. DVD Extras Rating: 8/10

Alternatives:

Basic Instinct., Fatal Attraction, Single White Female

Summary

Slow in parts near the start, this film develops into a gripping thriller that clearly demonstrates Williams’ versatility and ability to perform in a serious role.