One Hour Photo survives on one performance, but one you won’t want to miss

A photo lab work takes a huge interest in the life of a family whose photos he regularly develops.

20 year photo development veteran Sy Parrish (Robin Williams) has a huge knowledge of modern photography and develops photos at a local supermarket for a living. Outside of his work, however, Sy leads a very sad, lonely life and so takes up a hobby spying on the Yorkin family – his most loyal customers who, on the surface, appear to have everything a young family could want. Sy soon wants in on this ‘perfect’ life that the Yorkins are leading, however when he discovers that things are in fact not all rosy in their garden, he becomes a man possessed as he sets out to expose the imperfections of the Yorkin family that could tear them apart.

One Hour Photo is not to going to be the greatest film you will ever see – it’s runtime of 92 minutes plods in places and the ending is one that will frustrate you, however I’m still going to say that it’s a film you need to see. Robin Williams is absolutely tremendous in it, and it is him and him alone that makes the entire thing watchable.

Critics said that this was the performance of William’s career. I’ve just said he was the one reason I watched One Hour Photo from beginning to end, however purely because the film enhanced his performance, I’d probably say that Insomnia was the film with his tour de force outing. However, we shall now acknowledge how wonderfully weird he was in this case. As Sy, he was evidently very unhinged. The man’s loneliness had taken its toll on him, and sadly now he was worse off for it. There wasn’t even a glimpse of Williams’ comedic personality – in fact, it got so that after watching the film for fifteen minutes, I had to keep reminding myself of who I was watching. The big thing for me with this performance was how it grabbed hold of the viewer and refused to let go. Sy had no redeeming features, yet you still wanted him to be alright in the end. Obviously there were going to be consequences for him, but you didn’t want them to be too serious.

Unfortunately, though, that’s where the positives end for me. I didn’t feel like any of the other performances were that strong, and as for the execution of the storyline… well, we won’t go there. It’s a shame because the idea was very good, but the way it was pulled off let it down massively. I strongly believe it had the potential to be a very slick masterpiece, but it just feels like Williams was the only one who really cared when it came to the end product. It also tried to be a bit too clever at some points which I generally have no time for anyway, but when there is only one performance keeping my interest for the entire film as well? Just don’t expect me to be too impressed.

Basically, the only reason you’ll be watching One Hour Photo after watching this is Robin Williams’ knock-out performance, and whilst one performance wouldn’t be enough to swing it for you normally, on this occasion that one performance is also the one reason why you absolutely cannot miss this. Strange, I know, but oddly true. Just take the rest of the film with a pinch of salt, perhaps.


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Kira Comerford

Film and TV lover with hopes to one day make my own projects for everyone to enjoy. Until then, I'm giving my thoughts on what I watch for inspiration.

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