F.I.L.M. of the Week (October 1, 2010)

1 10 2010

Long before there were your creepy Facebook “friends” who could stalk your photos, there were people like Sy Parrish, the creepy photo developer in Mark Romanek’s “One Hour Photo,” the “F.I.L.M. of the Week.”

Robin Williams plays the SavMart employee whose fixations drive him to violate all notions of privacy.  With no family or friends to speak of, he lives vicariously through the Yorkin family, whose pictures he has developed since the birth of their son.  Sy compulsively saves their pictures, compiling them on a giant wall in his home.

One day, obsession turns to possession, and he manages to convince himself that he is a member of their family.  We never figure out what leads him to these delusions, be it greed, envy, loneliness, depression, or some other compulsion.  And it is precisely because of his undefined motive that “One Hour Photo” is so scary; we could know someone like Sy.  Or he could know us.

Williams is absolutely frightening in the lead, and his performance is only aided by the shock value when we realize this is the man who gave us “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Flubber.”  It’s not just his movie though.  Mark Romanek’s direction is sharp, and his script is full of many keen observations on the meaning of a photo.  In the era where we tag ourselves in picture after picture on Facebook, “One Hour Photo” is one of the rare movies that becomes more relevant as the technology in it becomes irrelevant.

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