One Hour Photo

A Neat Compact Thriller, 13 February 2011

Author: gary-444 from United Kingdom

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A well crafted, low budget, psychological thriller that succeeds because of its’ restraint. Robin Williams stars as a middle aged single loner, Si Parrish, who works in the photo development lab at a supermarket. He lives his life dealing with memento’s of events which others wish to remember, their photographs. But is it to replace that which he wishes to forget? Williams is terrific. Quiet, creepy, with just a hint of menace and violence he insidiously works his way into the lives of a perfect couple, possibly replacing his own less than perfect past life, past and present, with theirs.

Connie Neilsen and Michael Vartan play as husband and wife , Nina and Will Yorkin whose superficially attractive life collapses as Parrish finds the cracks. The sets are limited, mainly a shopping mall, the Yorkin’s home, and a Hotel giving the feel of a stage play, and it is the script, the words, the dialogue which dominate.

The final act is strong, yet still Director and writer Mark Romanek pulls his punches. The sexual dimension which could easily have been gratuitously exploited, isn’t. The violence which simmers under the surface is not fully realised. The only truly unexplored element is why he surrenders everything in a Pyhrric victory. Photographic, framing and picture allusions abound both obvious, and subtle, and the one and a half hour running time is perfect for the story. Romaneks previous work has been mainly with Music Video which will have helped with the stylised presentation and limited sets, but to his credit he also shows an ability to tell an extended narrative outside of his milieu.

Although this falls short on the sex and violence and edge of your seat tension stakes, it is nonetheless satisfying in its own right and can be looked back on with pride by all involved. 

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