One Hour Photo

this afternoon, in part to escape the incredible heat that had settled in on Oakland, my brother and I went to see ‘One Hour Photo‘, which conveniently, was being shown in a nearby, air-conditioned theatre.

I hadn’t been too excited about the film, indeed, I’d expected to not like it. The premise seemed to forced, mostly because of the casting choice of Robin Williams – this film, along with ‘Death to Smoochy’ and ‘Insomnia’ concludes a sort of trilogy of psycopathy (psychopathology?) for him.
Instead, while I won’t say I enjoyed the movie (you shouldn’t really enjoy a good thriller/suspense film I feel – otherwise, it can’t really be that suspenseful, or scary, or what have you), I did think it was a good film. The obsequeous niceness that permeates most of Robin Williams’ non-eccentric film roles was played to excellent effect here – he makes an excellent serial-killer-next-door type. John Romanesko’s direction, which was really quite heavy-handed in this film, didn’t leave much to the imagination, but managed to avoid (with one notable exeption that I won’t mention because it is somewhat of a spoiler) overdoing it. The sets in the film echo strongly the characters. Sy (Robin Williams) lives in an over-large, empty apartment that is incredibly non-descript (except for one corner). he works at a SavMart (think: Walmart), a monolithic super-store basked in whitelight, with white shelves. It is as clinical and as impersonal as any Big Box store can be. He even wears those plain, white ‘nurse’ runners with the velcro straps, that squeak slightly as he steps softly across the white, buffed floors of the Savmart. The Yorkins (his ‘targets’), by contrast, live in a warm, wood-hued house, wear dark clothes and are light in a much warmer light (it makes for some odd scenes, as cutting to Sy, the color is slightly washed out and faded (underexposed?), whereas they are tanned, warmly lit (perfectly exposed)). Sy drives a non-descript white car (an Echo, I think), they drive a silver Mercedes SUV. Every aspect of the characters is echoed and amplified in their surroundings and possessions (see? heavy-handed). think of the names somewhat too: Sy = Seymour = See more. Yorkin = Your Kin. hah-hah.

The film does follow Day’s golden rule, which is probably why it works: the stakes continually get higher. From start to wonderfully anti-climactic finish, the stakes climb for everyone involved. The score, understated and ominous does likewise, though thankfully never becomes bombastic.

Romanesko uses dreamscapes to further emphasize his point in the film, and always segues into them seamlessly, not revealing that it is indeed fact until right at the end, although the score does signal a dreamscape, if you listen closely. This element comes into play at the end, and made me wonder briefly whether anything really happened, although I’m inclined to think that it did.

For the record, I’m glad that I use digital film, and that when I did use an analog camera, I tended to not always go to the same place to get film developed. I was disturbed enough thinking that developers would see my shots, let alone construst a rich fantasy life with doubles of all my shots.