(Review originally written at 11 January 2007)

"One Hour Photo" uses an original concept and has an original approach.

The story is about real-life and real-life characters. The thriller elements in the movie don't really ever feel forced and the movie actually has a pretty realistic atmosphere and certain tension. It's mainly thanks to the actors that the movie works out this way.

Guess that no one ever really thought about it but the guy who develops your photos for years, knows more about you and your personal life than you would really want to. This movie shows what can happen if a developer gets obsessed with your personal life and feels that he is- or at least should be a part of your 'normal' life.

I'm probably making the movie sound more 'thriller-like' than it in fact is. Yes, "One Hour Photo" is a thriller but not one with constant suspension or an haunting atmosphere.

This is probably due to the approach of the movie, that is original and refreshing but also is a killer for the much needed formulaic thriller ingredients. The main character of the movie is the 'psychophate' himself. Instead of seeing him as a monster, you can't help feeling compassion for him. Sy Parrish is a lonely guy but kind guy and everything that he has in the world is his job. He has never been married and is probably a single all his life and he has no family. His loneliness and sadness becomes very sensible in the movie and you really start to feel compassion for the character and want him to be happy. In that regard "One Hour Photo" is probably a better dramatic character movie than a thriller.

It's absolutely thanks to Robin Williams that the main character works out so well in the movie. He's highly convincing in this serious role. Somewhat of course he very rarely ever plays. He really is the one that carries the movie and here is also were one of the problems of the movie lays. All of the other characters are pushed to the back. It doesn't make the story work out as powerful and tense as it could had been. The Yorkin's are a pretty good movie-family but their fears and their reactions toward the weird- and behavior of Sy at certain points of the movie gets highly underdeveloped. It's probably the reason why it isn't the most effective thriller around, though it's absolutely an original and great one to watch.

The storytelling is for most part good. It takes its time to draw out the character and set up the situations. It shows how the character slowly slips from being obsessed, to being a dangerous and psychotic stalker, when things are turning against him. It's definitely true that the movie goes a bit overboard toward the ending when everything happens fast and there is build up to an ending that just can't life up to its build up.

It's definitely a well directed movie with a good visual style and some great shot and effective sequences, though Mark Romanek obviously still has a lot of learning to do. But the basis is here already notable in the movie and the basis is real good, so that promises a lot for his future movies.

Highly recommendable due to its originality and performances from the cast but just don't watch this movie expecting a tense stalker-thriller, that will bring you to the edge of the seat.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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