Middle aged Sy Parrish works as a technician at a one hour photo lab located in a SavMart store in a suburban mall. Sy is a lonely man, never having had any friends. He knows much about his customers through the photographs they have developed. But he knows more about the Yorkin family - specifically Nina Yorkin and her adolescent son Jake Yorkin, the two in the family who drop off and pick up the family's photofinishing - the family about whom he is obsessed, than anyone else. Nina's husband, Will Yorkin, is incidental to his obsession since Sy has only seen him in photographs. Sy's obsession includes fantasizing about being their favorite "Uncle Sy". He has even been making an extra set of prints for himself of all of their photographs since Jake was a newborn. After an incident at work and after Sy finds out more about the family through a set of photographs, he decides to right the injustices he sees in the only way he knows how. His actions demonstrate his true mental state.Written by
During the DVD commentary, director Mark Romanek stated that Jack Nicholson was up for the role of Sy before Robin Williams. This is not the first time Williams was up for a role first approached to Nicholson. When Nicholson was stalling to sign on as Joker in Batman (1989) Williams was in talks before casting was finalized. See more »
When Nina is putting Jake to bed, she is wearing brown trousers. When she goes downstairs to the kitchen, she is wearing khakis. See more »
[voice-over following opening interrogation room scene]
Family photos depict smiling faces... births, weddings, holidays, children's birthday parties. People take pictures of the happy moments in their lives. Someone looking through our photo album would conclude that we had led a joyous, leisurely existence free of tragedy. No one ever takes a photograph of something they want to forget.
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An early cut of the film had several differences than the theatrical version.
The opening Fox Searchlight logo briefly becomes a negative image as it fades out. This is obviously a reference to picture negatives.
An alternate prologue before the main titles featured a narration by Williams on the red eye effect in human's and animals, while a photo of a family with red eyes, footage of animals with this effect and video of what's happening in the eye when this happens.
There was also a scene near the end where a police detective reviews the pictures Sy took of Will & Maya at the hotel. In the theatrical version these photos were never shown and it was left in question whether they were actually taken.
The argument between Sy and the photo machine repair guy was extended.
Mr. Williams Steals The Show In This Clever Little Chiller
On face value, 'One Hour Photo' may seem like an average thriller but you'll be in for a surprise if you think so. It is a clever little movie that works both as a psychological thriller and an intriguing character study. Thankfully it does not have the absurd twists one has witnessed in the overrated 'Fatal Attraction' or nonsensical ones like in 'Single White Female' or 'The Hand That Rocks the Cable'. The storytelling is very coherent and the portrayal of the characters is very subtle.
This isn't a fast-paced thriller. Writer and director Romanek takes his time to tell the story but that does not make 'One Hour Photo' boring. On the contrary, it allows us to discover the shades of Seymour and allows the viewer to feel sympathy for but also be fear of him. Likewise, we also discover the family Seymour/Sy stalks. At first they appear to be like a happy American family but soon we see, through Seymour's point of view, that reality is something else. Romanek creates a very gloomy cold atmosphere. The viewer does feel Seymour's loneliness from the busy supermarket to his claustrophobic apartment. The film is very well shot as it highlights the gloominess, indifference and closed atmosphere. Romanek also approaches interesting themes about what photographs mean i.e. proof of ones existence (beautifully explained in the film). While people take pictures of happy moments, their reality is something else.
Coming to the performances, what would 'One Hour Photo' be without Robin Williams? The actor is in a completely different form and he does an excellently downplays Sy. Sy is gentle, polite, pathetic and creepy. Williams really brings a humane quality to the character rather than portray him as the clichéd stalker. Nielsen and Vartan are good too. La Salle and Cole give sufficient support. But, in the end, it's a one man show that belongs to Mr. Williams.
There are a few very minor flaws such as a few scenes where reality is suspended but overall this is a cleverly chilling film that deserves to be watched but do not expect lots of murder, bloodshed, or silly twists like boiling a live rabbit.
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