One Hour Photo
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One of the most effective and atmospheric thrillers this year, first-timer Romanek calls upon the ghosts of Kubrick and Hitchcock to create something that gets far under our skin. It centres on Sy (Williams), the photo guy at the local Sav-Mart who takes a very personal interest in one family whose pictures he has been processing for years. Well, it's hardly surprising since he's a lonely single man with no family of his own, while the Yorkins are young, good-looking and successful. But Sy takes things a bit too far, papering a wall in his flat with family pics and giving young Jake (Smith) free merchandise for his birthday (as if to say, "Would you like some candy, little boy?"). Then on a very bad day in the shop he discovers that Jake's dad (Vartan) is having an affair. So he quietly lets Mrs Yorkin (Nielsen) know, then takes matters into his own hands.

Romanek gets much of his style from Kubrick--white-on-white sets, stark composition, minimalist music, internalised performances. And it works wonderfully, drawing us in with the chilling familiarity of it all, but still capturing an emotional resonance that doesn't let Sy become merely a standard movie villain. Williams gauges the performance perfectly, starting out as a kind of Forrest Gump character but getting deeper and richer as the plot turns until we are both terrified of him and worried for him. There's a fine line here, and he somehow manages to stay right on it, which is where Hitchcock and, most notably, Psycho come in. Meanwhile, Romanek also gets under the surface of this handsome suburban family, while examining the importance of photographs in our collective memories and experiences. This is extremely clever, subtle filmmaking that resonates on several levels and provides a fresh, 21st century twist on the Fatal Attraction theme. Is Sy a moral crusader, a defending angel or a crazed psychopath? Brilliant!

cert 15 adult themes and situations, language, nudity, suspense 27.Aug.02

dir-scr Mark Romanek
with Robin Williams, Connie Nielsen, Michael Vartan, Dylan Smith, Eriq LaSalle, Clark Gregg, Gary Cole, Paul Hansen Kim, Erin Daniels, Jim Rash, Nick Searcy, Peter MacKenzie
release US 23.Aug.02; UK 4.Oct.02
02/US 1h36

Shopworn. Sy the Photo Guy (Williams) takes a break in the bed and bath department...

williams nielsen vartan lasalle
R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... see what develops "**1/2 Robin Williams plays a creepy friendless photo processor who stalks a family. An OK Hollywood film but uncomfortable to watch." --Gawain McLachlan, Filmnet, Melbourne 14.Mar.03
2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall