One Hour Photo (2002)

Mark Romanek directs Robin Williams, Connie Neilsen and Gary Cole in this thriller where a lonely photo developer’s fixation with a perfect looking family moves beyond stalking when he snaps.

A bleak nightmare starring the lynchpin of schmaltzy family comedy. Williams was such a strange Hollywood star as whenever he worked outside his natural motormouth wheelhouse in drama or crime he actually shone brighter than he does in his blockbuster syrupy silly films. “Shone brighter” might not be the best term for his powerhouse lead here as Sy the photo guy. A man so devoid of meaningful human interaction he literally looks like he has been permanently bleached by the chemicals he works with. It is a distinct and unpredictable piece of film acting, dominating a visually precise world of corporate conformity and monotone blankness. Romanek seemingly cares a lot more about the mise en scéne than he does the narrative. One Hour Photo quirkily doesn’t position Sy into the most obvious course when he loses control. And while every lunatic thriller that doesn’t just mimic Psycho or Silence of the Lambs should deserve praise, the end game of this particular nightmare isn’t exactly satisfying even if it is disturbing. The wrap up just doesn’t work as popcorn. Add to that, away from Williams, only Gary Cole (as an insidious superstore boss) puts in anything resembling a memorable performance and you are left with a showcase rather than an entertainment. Williams proves he can veer into extreme darkness, Romanek that he can direct the fuck out of a dressed set if not an ensemble. Mixed feelings.


Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog

We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here

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