One Hour Photo

Music video whiz Mark Romanek's first feature, One Hour Photo, resonates with chilling precision the descent into madness of an anonymous Everyman, Sy Parrish, a film processor working at the SavMart megastore, o­ne of those fluorescently-lit generic shopping malls. He dutifully and superconscientiously processes the Kodak memories of happy lives, while his own borders o­n pathological isolation. Sy (Robin Williams) fixates his sentimental derangement o­n the picture-perfect Yorkins, an upwardly mobile Yuppie family who represent everything Sy has been deprived of: love, family, and connection to the world. His o­nly real link to the human race is through the photos he develops; the testament to the everyday celebrations of life. After all, says Sy, "no o­ne ever takes a photograph of something they want to forget." But all is not well within the Yorkins' suburban nest, a fact which Sy uncovers in the tell-all negatives of his customers.

This is where the film's skilful sound and production design reveal the underlying creepiness of Sy's character. Behind the polite smile and friendly chit-chat lies a festering madman, slowly coming undone by his reclusive lifestyle and the rupture of his fantasy family delusion. Director Romanek (along with expert cinematographer, Jeff Cronenweth) cunningly manipulates our sympathies and observations until the finale, when the tension established throughout the film finds its startling resolution. Robin Williams plays the pathological protagonist to perfection, tweaking every visceral nuance to create pathos within a disturbed character that film audiences are not likely to forget.

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