This 2002 American psychological thriller was directed and written by Mark Romanek; released by Fox Searchlight Pictures and stars the following:
- Robin Williams as “Sy Parrish”
- Connie Nilson as “Nina Yorkin”
- Michael Vartan as “Will Yorkin”
- Dylan Smith as “Jake Yorkin”
- Erin Daniels as “Maya Bursons”
- Eriq La Salle as “Detective James Van Der Zee”
- Clark Gregg as “Detective Paul Outerbridge”
- Gary Cole as “Bill Owens” (manager)
What interested me first into watching this film was the intriguing trailer, as shown below. This was partly because it has the sub-genre of a psychological thriller, which means it makes the audience question themselves, and because many people recommended the film to me, like family members as it portrays another side of the actor Robin Williams; not playing the usual role of a happy man the audience would expect him to be. Instead he plays a employee of a photo lab company, where he becomes obsessed with a particular family that are customers…
I also found the film poster for “One hour photo” interesting as the audience can’t see that much information about the character shown, only that an ominous tone is presented through him looking at the developed film role. Which could suggest that this man isn’t meant to be doing it as he looks quite creepy (by his facial expressions) and therefore, means that the audience are keen to watch the film to find out more about the mysterious man…
The film begins with Sy Parrish sitting and reflecting on why he has been charged to a detective, through a long flashback that covers the majority of the film. The character Sy develops an obsession with the Yorkin family (Will, Nina and their son Jake), due to being a photo technician that developed their photos for several years. He idolised their happiness and imagined himself as part of their family (uncle Sy), when in reality he is extremely lonely . So, he pretends to be interested in a book that he noticed Nina Yorkin was reading just so he could make a conversation with her; here he opens up to her about his life, but only the audience know this isn’t the truth because he purchased a photo of a woman who he claims to be his “mother”. Also Sy goes home to nothing, a bare house with only a tv he sits and watches. However, he has a huge collage wall of photos that he printed at work of the Yorkin family. Identifying that the number of orders of prints at work doesn’t match the number of orders, Sy’s manager fires him. In an aspect of revenge, Sy takes photos of his manager’s daughter and asks for them to be printed, which the police get involved as an employee tells his manager about them. As well as, Sy realises that Will Yorkin is having an affair with Maya, after finding pictures of them together, he changes the name so that Nina picks up the photos and sees her husband and Maya together in the pictures. But she doesn’t do anything about it as Sy follows her to her house and she carries on like normal. He decides to take the matter into his own hands by following Will and Nina to a hotel, where he pretends to be room service, only to break into their room with a knife and makes them do sexual positions, naked. He takes photos of them, but soon realises the police are there at the hotel; he attempts to escape them by running away out of the emergency exit, only to be confronted by several officers and police cars. The film then goes back to the start where he pleads that he was “just taking pictures”, the detective Van Der Zee interrogates him asking why he done it, but Sy responds with him knowing that the detective wouldn’t take degrading, inappropriate pictures of his children. Furthermore, suggesting that Sy Parrish was sexually abused by his father as a young child. Then to end the film, is a shot of a family picture with Sy and the Yorkin family.
Whilst watching the film I didn’t truly know how I felt about the character Sy Parrish, as at one point I found him quite creepy when the wall filled with pictures of the Yorkin family are shown. But before that I felt sorry for him as the young child Jake tells his mother (Nina) that he is sad because “Sy the photo guy” is lonely; which I agreed with because when he went back to his house, it was empty and made him seem really isolated from society. Therefore, when I found out the hundreds of pictures he printed out was of the Yorkin family, it made me feel sick and question how I felt about Sy.
Adding to this idea of Sy being a creep, is the fact that when he has a nightmare of him walking in the empty Savemarket and then commits suicide, (displayed below through the gif), made me question whether he was mentally disturbed. In which, his house is bare, with the walls reflecting those of a mental asylum. Also, the symbolism of the colour white can be interpreted as the character Sy not being morally god-like, (what the colour usually symbolises), but white symbolising his loneliness and therefore his insanity. As a result, the most iconic scene in the film “One hour photo” contains an extremely gory aspect, which the audience associate with the thriller genre.
In the film, filtered colours like red is used to indicate the theme of danger, which the audience can connote that at the stage of Sy Parrish finding out about the secret affair between Will and Maya, he is shown with the red filter as a close up shot is used. This implies that the climax of the film is about to begin and Sy has transformed into a more dangerous character than he was before.
Robin Williams has shown that he has played many different roles, not just in family comedies for young children as evident in previous films such as “Aladdin” and “Mrs Doubtfire”, but in this film it takes him to a new level as it’s a more dramatic role.
However, one thing I didn’t enjoy in the film was the fact that the ending was unresolved, in the sense that the audience will never know if the character Sy Parrish was charged and sent to prison for his actions or released because they felt sorry for him as he was molested by his father and so sent to a recovery institution. Therefore, the ending is up for debate; something I would have liked to have seen a definite answer to what happened to him.
As well as, when he’s in the interrogation room with detective Van Der Zee, he asks for the printed photos, in which he lays out on the table and the audience are left to guess whether these were the photos he took when in the room with Will and Maya. But it seemed that Sy was taking pictures of them in sexual positions, but later when the audience see the photos they are simply of objects in the room, like the door handle etc. Furthermore, the audience question if he really was doing any harm or if he was “just taking pictures” as he claimed he did; despite being a threatening man with a large/sharp knife. Resulting, in the audience believing this was all done to his mental instability, unable to control his emotions of anger towards Will Yorkin for disrupting his happy family; as the audience can connote the final shot is of a photo with Sy and the Yorkin family.