One Hour Photo (2002)

(In theaters, September 2002) This is Robin Williams’ third “evil” role of 2002, and it’s probably the one in which he disappears most completely. (While I did like his turn in Insomnia, it wasn’t all that different from, say, Good Will Hunting. In Death To Smoochy, of course, he simply let loose with his stand-up persona gone pure wacko.) The film itself is so-so, but his role is such that it’s remarkably easy to forget that “Sy the Photo Guy” is played by Robin Williams. He’s one of the few interesting things in this story of a desperately lonely man whose fantasy life threatens to spill over and actually hurt someone. The script can be lauded for not turning into a prototypical “guys goes nuts” structure, but on the other hand, One Hour Photo doesn’t do much with the elements it’s choosing to use. Some musings about the nature of memory as it relates to photography are not sufficient for entertainment, and the blurry motivations of the protagonist, coupled with his inexplicable lack of professionalism (you’d expect such a character to scrupulously cover his tracks by, say, paying for everything rather than risk his job) are a bit mystifying in this context. Then there’s a creepy nightmare scene that’s effective, but seems misplaced in the center of the film. The ending is also a bit of a head-scratcher, leaving no clear resolution to the central conflict. (to put it simply, where do you think the character is going from here?) All in all, One Hour Photo works, but just so. It’s not a fully satisfying experience, and its deficiencies can overshadow its strengths.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *