View Full Version : The Moose Hole - 'Photo' Delivers More Positives Then Negatives

09-14-2002, 05:41 PM
Fox Searchlight's 'One Hour Photo'

Released August 21st, 2002

Starring: Robin Williams, Connie Nielsen, Michael Varta , Gary Cole, Erin Daniels, Eriq La Salle, Carmen Mormino, Andrew A. Rolfes

Director: Mark Romanek

Premise: A young suburban family (Nielsen plays the mother; Vartan, the father) finds themselves the objects of obsession of an employee (Williams) at their local one-hour photo lab after they drop some family photo's off there...

The end of the summer offered so many choices that just didn't appeal to the movie going public. Among those were the lackluster comedies Serving Sara and S1m0ne. Even films like Feardot.com tried to tap into the fear of audiences but just never really "linked" up. Now these are moderately budgeted films with somewhat big name stars. Now it has to hit Hollywood hard that these films that look to be moderate winners are either big failures or small successes. It hurts even more knowing that they have been beaten by films that have miniature budgets and have no or limited stars. Among these is the film that critics have been raving about since the Sundance Film Festival. Robin Williams goes from his happy go-lucky characters to something way off the charts. This is the year for Williams to transition himself from comedian to Oscar-winning dramatic actor. And with no other big stars in the film, he is the main draw outside of the buzz for the film. Does Williams creepy performance deliver the goods to the audience or is the film underdeveloped?

The story is that Seymour Parrish is the photo manager at the local Savmart, working there almost every day for the past eleven years. In those long years, a certain family continues to come back to the Savmart and dropping off their family photos to be developed by Sy. In those years, he has become very attached to them and has "adopted" himself into their lives. He has become a sort of "uncle" to young Jack Yorkin who lives a so-called happy life with his mother and workaholic father, Will. He soon becomes very obsessed with them, so much so that he follows the mother, Nina, around and pretends to bump into her at the mall or even buying presents for young Jack. But once Sy is fired by Savmart for wasting prints by coping the Yorkin family pictures for himself, he begins to take matters into his own hands especially when he discovers the dark secret of Will Yorkin. The story sticks well to the point of following the destructive path of Sy the Photo Guy. The story does veer off course from time to time with dream sequences and such but it tends to come back on track in very quick time. There are many moments that keep the audience on the edge of the seat and surprises them as not to bore them for a hour and a half.

The characters in 'One Hour Photo' offer a outside view of what a normal family looks like and then revealing that nothing is as it seems. Robin Williams offers his best and most fearful performance of his career. He fits perfectly into the role of Sy the Photo Guy complete with loose glasses, white shirt and creepy smile that he offers his customers. Not only does he deliver an Oscar contending performance but also presents a stirring narrative over portions of the presentation. Connie Nielsen and Michael Vartan are great as Nina and Will Yorkin. They deliver brilliant performances without drawing outside attention from the real story of Sy Parrish. The only real problem was Gary Cole who plays Jack Yorkin. His character came off as too cute and as his film mother put it too "sensitive". But he does offer a better performance then the normal child actors.

Overall, 'One Hour Photo' delivers more positives then negatives by the end of the feature. The big highlight of the film is definitely Robin Williams' brilliant and creepy performance as the photo clerk of Savmart. This will be the big draw for the film and that is surely what Fox Searchlight is counting on. The story does very well but does tend to throw things at the audience that just freak the audience out rather then intrigue them especially one dream sequence involving Sy. The acting performance of Gary Cole began to get on nerves for portions of the film but luckily he was limitedly seen near the end of the feature-length presentation. Other then those small quarrels, 'One Hour Photo' delivers what it was meant to and that was of a dark dramatic look at the so-called "picture-perfect" life of the modern family. If Hollywood hasn't gotten the hint from 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' then they should definitely get it from 'One Hour Photo' and the message is this: Good performances and better stories mean more then big name stars and loud special effects. Hopefully they will listen this time around.

My Rating: **** out of 5

09-15-2002, 01:28 AM
Interesting review. Do you ever get the feeling that Williams might be just a little bit creepy naturally, like hes not sure who he should be. Perhaps a common quality amongst the crazy comedians of our time. Tragic in a way, but in terms of this film, added just a bit more creepiness to see him get into this role.

I wish, as you do, that Hollywood would get the message, but they wont! Not as they are now. Look at the recording industry. As things go down the tubes there, the execs are helpless. They dont have the vision it takes to recognize good from bad. All they seem to know is what has made a profit thus far and then they think about how to do that again. But, perhaps, as you say, these little films with big profits will open their eyes!

09-15-2002, 11:01 AM
It was very creepy seeing Williams in this role. It would have been creepy seeing Anthony Hopkins in this role but seeing Williams, who is typically a funny guy with almost no burst of anger, added an extra sense of terror into the film. I had seen him do dramatic roles in Good Morning Vietnam and Good Will Hunting but he still was somewhat light-hearted. I hope to see him on DVD in 'Insomnia' and 'Death to Smoochy' later this year, so I am not to good as describing his transition into this dark of a role.

I fear the same as you that Hollywood may not get the message. But I would hope they would. The message would have been driven really home if 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' or 'One Hour Photo' had been number one at the box office but that looks not to happen. They may make an impact but one that could easily be ignored at a moment's notice.

09-15-2002, 11:15 AM
This is one of those ongoing debates. Ultimately Hollywood may not get the message, but certainly the viewing public could get the message. If that continues to happen then Hollywood's role as a provider of box office smashes that cost a fortune to make will either be diminished or will have to change. Power to the people!

09-15-2002, 11:24 AM
My thoughts exactly. I had never thought that I would be seeing an indepedent film during the year, let alone two independent films in a row. First 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' and now 'One Hour Photo'. As long as the audience like them, I guess it doesn't really matter.

09-15-2002, 12:03 PM
I think as you see more and more of them, you will find that there are a large number of very well made films out there. Perhaps a smaller budget forces the filmmaker to think more carefully about characters, plot and the overall product...

09-15-2002, 12:13 PM
'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' and 'One Hour Photo' have encouraged me to see more independent films rather then avoid them or wait till they are on DVD.

09-15-2002, 01:04 PM
See them on the big screen! Theyre most beautiful there.

09-15-2002, 01:13 PM
I have seen them on the big screen and they do appear better there.

09-16-2002, 07:06 PM
Any more thoughts on this review? Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

09-16-2002, 10:14 PM
I agree that the film has unnecessary moments where it just tries to "freak out" the audience. They take elements of an interesting character and force them on the viewer in a context that is outside the narrative flow. That's a problem with a lot of movies, trying to give an overall "memorable" movie and not neccessarily a "meaningful" one. I think this film succeeds, and you are right about some unnecessary freak-outs.

Who else would you say is a contender right now (You mention Williams for an Oscar)?

good review.

09-16-2002, 10:27 PM
Williams should be at leasted nominated for what he did for this film. Going to all that length to escape his usual light-hearted roles for this dark dramatic role.

09-16-2002, 11:42 PM
Originally posted by MickeyMoose15
Williams should be at leasted nominated for what he did for this film. Going to all that length to escape his usual light-hearted roles for this dark dramatic role.

I dont know if we should nominate someone just for doing something different than what they normally do. The award should be for the acting in the film alone, without outside conditions. Its not like a lifetime achievement award or anything, although he should get one of those down the road.

09-17-2002, 04:19 PM
I dont know if we should nominate someone just for doing something different than what they normally do. The award should be for the acting in the film alone, without outside conditions. Its not like a lifetime achievement award or anything, although he should get one of those down the road.

But what he did differently is nothing short of spectacular. He did a very good job with the role he had. And to go from being this funny man in the spotlight and make such a big transition into this dramatic role, he should be credited for something.

09-17-2002, 05:54 PM
And to go from being this funny man in the spotlight and make such

Agree with you, but I dont think Best Actor is the award to give to someone because of their relative performances in two separate movies. Take One Hour Photo alone and compare it to the performances of other actors in their movies and whichever is best should get the award. Very well-documented that the Academy isnt as judicious as my example but it would be nice to see people win on the merit of their single performance.

09-17-2002, 06:29 PM
The critics loved Williams for his role in the film. They ultimately decide who wins what award, so he will more then likely could be nominated for this award.

09-20-2002, 10:02 PM
The best films I've seen this year are One Hour Photo and the Good Girl, both made outside the studio system (both are from Fox Searchlight, which is 20th Century Fox's specialty division, so I guess it's related to the studio system). But significantly, neither of these films were released by the big studio. I pretty much rarely see major studio films, because they are all cut from the same cloth. It is significant that the most talented writers and directors to emerge in the past 10 years (Tarantino, PT Anderson, Aronofsky, etc) came from the independent ranks.

09-21-2002, 12:14 AM
Another good reason why Hollywood should take notice of these independent films.

09-21-2002, 04:46 PM
Media sources have fun trying to get us to believe that these films which Soixante describes "cut from the same cloth" are the important films of our time. They are usually, in fact, only the most profitable as the viewing public falls victim to the corporate media blitz. I have a feeling that when the moving picture has time to evolve and is retrospectively assessed, the indie pictures/directors are the ones who will receive the most artistic praise.

In architecture do we see the Astrodome or the Skydome as great works? No, of course not. They are just financial monstrousities that will be replaced in time.

Hope this is not too soap-boxish, but its good to remind ourselves what is quality and what is...not.

Good Girl and One Hour Photo both fit the bill.

09-21-2002, 05:25 PM
You are right. There are many independent films that will stand the test of time but there are also many expensive company films that will as well. Star Wars, Titanic, Spider-Man, and Jurassic Park come to mind.

Chris Knipp
12-23-2002, 01:36 AM
It's not true that all critics loved "One Hour Photo" by any means. Robins deserves Academy recognition for the movie -- and just for this movie alone -- not because it's a different kind of role for him but purely for the merit of his performance. He achieves a compelling level of creepiness here that is very fine and unique. "One Hour Photo" is one of the year's best. My biggest budget 2002 fave so far is "Punch Drunk Love," and my other current choices are "The Good Girl," "The Believer," "Igby," and its naive companion piece "Tadpole" --all small films-- but I'm still hoping Speilberg's costly "Catch Me If You Can" turns out to be a winner. I can easily name off more than ten great foreign movies this year but I've only got six American ones and I don't know where the last four are going to come from--oh yes: the documentaries, "Bowling for Columbine" of course, and "Shadows of Motown".....Now I need at least two more (I'm not sure about "Tadpole": "Igby" sort of blew it out of the water). Does budget matter? This you can possibly say: that small budget movies have a better chance of achieving the originality that independence implies; when the stakes are lower, the filmmaker may be able to maintain more autonomy. But one of the great things a movie can traditionally do is be an awesome spectacle, and a skillful director can achieve wonders with a big budget that couldn't be achieved otherwise: witness "Titanic," which I for one love, and wouldn't have wanted to have done on the cheap. As Anthony Lane wrote of "Titanic," "If you are going to spend two hundred million dollars on a movie, this is the way to do it."

12-23-2002, 09:17 AM
I am not saying that Williams should gather an award just because it is a different role for him, though that may play into effect for some to choose him, but that his acting within the film was the best he had presented in quite sometime outside of Insomnia.