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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> September 2002 >> One Hour Photo

One Hour Photo

Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
4 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
September 2002
IMDB Name:
One Hour Photo (2002)
Mark Romanek
drama, suspense
MPAA Rating:
R for sexual content and language.


The greatest success of One Hour Photo is its thick tension. Although the premise is somewhat scary, it's really the atmospheric elements that convince us what these characters are capable of. Production designer Tom Foden and set decorator Tessa Posnansky created an amazingly sterile world for Sy. The visual work by cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth is excellent, with all of the cold lighting that inspires chicken/egg discussions about personalities and visual warmth cues. The music is by Kliemek and Heil, who also contributed to the score of Run Lola Run. This may be lower key, but it's always creepy.

At the plot level, one of the fear inducers is the innocuous invasion of privacy represented by photo developing. In an age where the U.S. Attorney General is asking everyone to spy on everyone else, there are already plenty of reasons to be paranoid. When the photo guy becomes unhinged, his position of power, disguised by his low-status job, can become quite dangerous. The photo guy always sees a lot more of our lives than we do of his. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

Many of the characters are a little difficult to swallow, but their interaction is exciting, even if the actions and motivations don't add up in the end. Thanks to its novel premise, One Hour Photo didn't feel particularly predictable. I found myself wondering throughout how far Sy would go. Robin Williams turns in the kind of anti-schlock performance that helps to erase some of his recent cry-fests. This is a dramatic character played with nice intensity. Gary Cole plays some of the same notes as in A Simple Plan, and it's still enjoyable. I also found Connie Nielsen to be very good throughout.

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Copyright 2002-2003 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.