One Hour Photo

If pictures have anything to say, it's this: I was here, I existed. I was young and happy and someone cared enough about me to take my picture.

A review by Mike Shea   Movie Rating: ( * * * · · )    DVD Rating: ( * * * * · )

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Insomnia and now One Hour Photo. It is Williams' performance that makes One Hour Photo work, along with some excellent cinematography, but the story itself isn't quite enough to label it a really great or even an exceptionally good movie. It is....ok.

Williams as the anti-social one hour photo clerk is an excellent performance. He seems to fit perfectly into the character, picking up strange mannerisms we see in the truly odd people in the world all the time. He's a little creepy, but gentle. He loves his job and he treats each photo as a samurai swordsmith treats each folded steel blade.

The cinematography in One Hour Photo is another real strength of the movie. The sets and the colors are sometimes surreal, like the department store itself with pure whites, solid colors, and spotless floors, shelves, and signs. Color plays a big part in the film, often representing our hero's view of the world outside of the normal view.

The weakness of One Hour Photo is in the story. Our hero is creepy but not truly horrifying. We know he isn't all right but we don't know if he's violent either. He's not smart but smart enough. He seems to be right between Sling Blade and Hannibal Lectar. Neither a cannibalistic mastermind nor a retarded guy with a sharpened lawnmower blade. The family is another mystery. We see that they have problems but we can't really put our finger on it. They are not really real but not surreal either. With their perfect poster looks, it is hard to identify with them. The wife, with her neo-japanese hair style and brown suede leather jacket is just too supermodel beautiful to be a typical housewife. She would fit better in the 4am New York City club scene than at the food court of a mall.

The DVD of One Hour Photo is quite good. It has a 16x9 enhanced 1.85 to 1 picture that represents the contrasts in color very well. The resolution was a tad fuzzy in scenes, mainly seen in the backgrounds of close-ups. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack was deep and powerful, mainly within the film's soundtrack. Dialog was quite clear. I did notice some wonderful subtle additions of typical department store muzak and shopping sounds in the surround channels. It helped build a realistic depth to those scenes that used it. There is a directors commentary along with the other extra features.

One Hour Photo is a good movie and an excellent representation of the depth of Robin Williams as an actor. The direction is good, leaning more towards the cinematography more than the story. If the story had been a little more decisive, it would have been a much better film. One Hour Photo is worth a rental but doesn't warrant a full purchase.