One Hour Photo
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Film Length: 96 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
Subtitles: English and Spanish
There's nothing more dangerous than
a familiar face.
Ever wonder what happens after you drop your
film off at the local photo processing shop?
Well here's a sad thought. Meet Sy Parrish, a
shy, introverted clerk at photo development center.
Sy has absolutely no life. He works, eats fast
food, and at the end of the day goes home to his
pet gerbil in a cage.
Sy's loneliness has turned into an obsession with
a local family, the Yorkins, who have become his
very best customers, dropping off their rolls of
film just about every week. On film, Parrish has
watched this family very closely. Through pictures,
he has known Will (Michael Vartan) and Nina (Connie
Nielson) and their son Jake (Dylan Smith) before he
was born all the way to his 9th birthday party. After
all these years he feels part of the family, saving
copies of their pictures for himself. While Sy often
dreams of becoming part of the family, the Yorkins
only think of him as "Sy, the photo guy."
Sy's grip on reality begins to collapse when a
customer brings in a roll of film that suggests that
Will has been unfaithful to Nina. Just the idea
that this model family's relationship may be falling
apart is enough to send Sy into a breakdown that
makes him go farther into his madness.
One Hour Photo is anything but a typical
Hollywood film, and Robin Williams is at the top
of his form playing the most untypical of characters.
His performance is utterly believable, and
surprisingly, his is practically nonexistent
throughout the film, quietly exposing his character
as the tension slowly builds around him. Much
credit has to be given to director Mark Romanek
whose camera angles are nicely used, giving off
dark overtones while Cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth
acts an artist using brilliant color schemes and
contrast in his environments to show how different
and alienated from society Sy is.
The only major problem with One Hour Photo
is that I fear that most audiences will be disappointed
by a film that remains unnerving but never overly
scary. The film continually builds tension from
start to end, but its payoff may not be satisfying
for most. Still, you can't help but marvel this
film's character study and Robin William's chilling
How is the transfer?
Just picture perfect! Images are very sharp and
detailed. This is a film that relies heavily on
both color and audio, and Fox has done a first-rate
job with a transfer that brings out the best in both.
Color is the most important element in this film,
as Sy's emotions are depicted through pure whites
and evil red depictions. The mostly white sequences
of the movie (the film Lab & SavMart store), is
represented brilliantly here looking pure and clean.
Then there's the multitude of colors of product
that line the SavMart aisles, vividly standing out
atop the rows of white shelving. All of these images
add up to a transfer that is top-rate.
This film greatly depends on this sensational 5.1
Dolby Digital mix to deliver some real creepy chills,
thanks to Johnny Klimak's haunting piano and harp
chorus that is often sad and quietly emotional,
yet equally chilling at other times. Overall sound
direction is excellent. William's narration in
the center channel is so clear that you would think
he was in the room with you. The film's score wraps
itself around the entire listening area in a very
spookish manner, with abnormally deep LFE bass that
pounds away to the undertones of the soundtrack,
adding real depth to the screen action.
I gotta stop and praise the person(s) that put
together the MAIN MENU of this DVD. Designed like
a ticket off of a photo envelope, you place an "X"
in the corresponding box next to your menu choice.
Even though it's the simplest of menus, it's one
of the most clever I have seen.
A full-length commentary with Robin Williams
and Mark Romanek is quite good, and surprisingly,
low-key. Williams' seems more sedated than lively,
but adds some humorous bits here and there. We learn
from the get go that the film's opening police
interrogation scene was never placed at the beginning
of the film. However, after a screening at Sundance,
it was suggested that a slight restructuring might
be in order. Williams is very pleased that he was
able to play Sy Parrish, a character that was vastly
different from his own, and receive such critical
acclaim in the process. You can tell how proud Robin
is of this film. Of course, Romanek gives us all the
lowdown on the lighting techniques and color schemes
used in the film, as well as foley work that was
done to get the squeak from Williams' shoes just
right. There's even a lot of subtle tributes to
photographers scattered throughout the film (such
as names that get called out over the store's PA
system). Robin and Mark really dive into some of
the oddities of the character, dissecting many of
the character's behavioral patterns. We learn that
Sy is quite good with objects (such as machinery and
objects) but not very good with people, treating
them as snapshots. One of the most interesting
portions of this commentary is where Robin talks
about doing the film's hotel scene with nude actors
who must have felt very vulnerable. It was a very
uncomfortable situation for everyone. This commentary
is quite an enjoyable and informative listen.
The Making of featurette is an original
Cinemax cable-tv production that doesn't manage
to rise up above the normal promotional fare.
Writer/Director Mark Romanek's idea to do this
film wsa based on his strange and utter fascination
with the large WalMart type convenience stores.
He felt the most interesting presence in these stores
was the photo shop guy. Don't let Robin William's
calm misdemeanor fool yuh -- he was an absolute
animal between takes, and the only real highlight
of watching this promotional piece is watching the
actor improvise between takes.
(length: approx. 13 minutes)
The Charlie Rose Interview with Robin Williams
and Mark Romanek is very free spirited, thanks to
the comic actor who manages to go off the deep end
a few times -- especially with his impersonations
of Ted Kaczynski. Romanek talks about the things
that helped shape his craft as a movie director, as
Williams staunchly says "no" to ever wanting to sit
in a director's chair. There's a lot of discussion
about the many images in this film and how it has
affected audiences. It was great of the studio to
include this segment in its entirety, as it truly
serves as a wonderfully intimate interview piece.
(length: approx. 35 minutes)
Anatomy of a Scene is another promotional
vehicle courtesy of The Sundance Channel.
It's actually more interesting to watch than the
former featurette for the fact that it gives a
more in-depth look at the film's creative process.
There's more contribution here from the people
involved like Producer Stan Wlodokoswki, Production
Designer Tom Foden and Cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth
who really give us an overview of the film's elaborate
production design, color schemes and camera angles.
Nice to see a featurette here worth watching!
(length: approx. 28 minutes)
In addition to the film's original theatrical
trailer and 3 TV Spots, there is a trailer
for the upcoming film, The Dancer Upstairs
May I take this opportunity to warn people that
there are two different versions of this (FULLFRAME
and WIDESCREEN) being released. Be certain you
pick up the WIDESCREEN version. The box is not
distinctly marked across the front and you'll
only see the proper markings if you flip the cover
over on its backside.
One Hour Photo is a brilliant, almost
picture-perfect psychological thriller about
crimes from a person you'd least expect. I feel
that this film deserves a rental at the very
least for the fact that I am afraid those who
see it may find it a bit too quiet. On the
other hand, I am betting that there will be
many of you who will be in complete awe of
Williams' chilling performance -- the very best
of his long movie career.
Release Date: February 18, 2003
All screen captures have been further compressed.
They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
represent actual picture quality