|Cover of One Hour Photo (Widescreen Edition)|
“One Hour Photo” is a psychological thriller starring Robin Williams as Sy Parrish, a photo technician working at a large supermarket’s one hour photo developing clinic. Living a lonely and solitary life, the painfully shy Sy becomes obsessed with his regular customers, the Yorkin family (Michael Vartan, Connie Nielsen and Dylan Smith), and fantasizes about being “Uncle Sy”…
With the death Robin Williams I was inspired to look back on this very original thriller, which immediately impressed me when it first came out on video. Rather than going the route of most psychological thrillers, which inevitably involve a lot of overt sexuality and vivid depictions of violence, this took a very different and more sympathetic approach.
Sy represents the alienation of individuals in modern society. The film’s ending provides us with a strong negative motivation for Sy’s desire to be a part of the perfect family, but the bigger picture is a story about how we often treat other members of our society. Sy’s narration discusses the false representation offered by photographs. The tragedies are rarely seen. Instead family albums of photographs are tapestries of smiling happy faces. Sy accepts this is not the true face, but he wants to believe in this utopia. The inspired set designs of the movie depict his workplace as a sterile and emotionless machine that affects a “heaven-like” hyper-reality and his home, where he keeps his shrine to the family he is stalking, is symbolic of Hell. Humans are naturally social creatures but Sy has no family or friends. Humans are driven to improve and be creative, but when Sy gets passionate about maintaining a certain standard in his workplace he is scalded and reminded about his position in the order.