Thursday, February 18, 2010

Movie Week Extravaganza - Film 3

One Hour Photo (2002)
Directed by Mark Romanek

Seymour 'SY' Parrish has been doing photo development for 20 years. He has a vast knowledge of modern photography and develops photos at a local department store for a living. But SY lives a sad and lonely life and begins spying on the Yorkin family, his biggest customers who seem to have everything in the world. SY begins to feel that he wants to be in the Yorkin's life, but when he discovers that the Yorkins are not as perfect as they seem, he becomes a man on a mission to expose the imperfections of the Yorkin family that could tear them apart.

This is a film that I have seen a few times over the years, as it's one of my favorites to come out of the last decade. A unique thriller that has you guessing every step of the way.

"Nobody ever takes a photograph of something they want to forget" - Sy Parrish

Great quote and a great moment in the film. I thought it was so true and people only take photos of the best moments of their life, not all the moments and things around them that really make up life. Because there's probably a small percentage of our lives that is truly great. That scene really resonated with me a lot.

One thing that stood out to me was the lighting of this film. In the beginning when Sy (played by Robin Williams) is introduced he's always in unflattering flourescent type lighting. It has a cooler tone to it and the way Sy looks it feels like he's seen very little natural light in many years. However, the scenes with the family he becomes obsessed with (the Yorkins) is lit with much warmer, friendlier tones that are more inviting. As the film went on and Sy got closer and closer to the family the two tones sort of blended together.

Robin Williams is absolutely terrific in this role. He's at times just outright creepy but likeable enough that you sympathize with his character and feel his sadness and lonliness. His transformation and how he immersed himself into this character was incredible and it really shows on screen, he did a great job. I think it's one of his best peformances.

I also really enjoyed the indepth look into the photo processing techniques which for us photographers is pretty fascinating. I also liked the funny outlook they had on the different people that got their photos developed. It's probably not far off from reality.

The writing in my opinion was really well done. I though Sy's narrative throughout was really interesting and you get a deeper understanding of the character and that photos really are his greatest passion and that he cares a great deal about them and takes a lot of pride in his work. It was interesting to show that his day dreams and fantasies become more vivid as the film goes along, to the point where he almost forces himself into the family he's stalking. His actions become more and more bold to the point he loses his job.

The side story with the family was a little cliched for me but I think it served the overall story well enough.

This was the Directors first feature film (he directed music videos before) and I thought it was a great start for the rookie film maker. Oddly enough he hasn't directed another film since but finally directed another one last year called Never Let Me Go which is due out this year. I thought his music video skills kind of came in handy for this type of film and there's some interesting visuals that perhaps other film makers wouldn't try or even think about where I thought it complimented the film. Perhaps the most obvious scene being the dream sequence where Sy's eyes start bleeding. I'm not sure what it totally means (although I have my theories which I'll keep to myself at this time) but it's a great and startling visual.

This is a film I've enjoyed each time I've seen it. It has an eerie vibe to it throughout the entire film that keeps you on the edge of your seat and makes your skin crawl, even on multiple viewings. I'm sure I'll see this a few more times over the years, it's a film that's easy to visit again.

It also makes me never want to take my personal photos to a printing place again, haha.

ps- ju-jubes do go well with popcorn!


  1. Chris, you've done a great job at describing a great film. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts, and learning from what you had to say! I completely agree on the lighting differences between scenes, and found the pure white of the store sort of psychotic? It was eerie, and went really well with Sy's personality.

    I don't know if I completely agree with the story of the family being cliched though. Maybe. ha.

    I have only seen this movie once, and think I will agree with you in saying I'll most likely give it some more views in the future.

    Thanks for the review!

    P.S. - Which Chris is this?

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