Director/Writer: Mark Romanek
Producer: Christine Vachon
Cinematographer: Jeff Cronenweth
Editor: Jeffrey Ford
Distributed By: Fox Searchlight Pictures
- Robin Williams as Seymour “Sy” Parrish
- Michael Vartan as Will Yorkin
- Connie Nielsen as Nina Yorkin
- Dylan Smith as Jake Yorkin
- Gary Cole as Bill Owens, Manager
Watched on 12/13/16, first time:
- Director successfully plays with the distorting quality of the lens in creating surreal feeling.
- There is no specific barriers between real-life sequences and dream scenes or imagination scenes. (However, finding which is which is not hard)
- Symbols like the color red and white are present. Red means rage.
- Actors as an ensemble is great.
- Writing – narrative monologues(there were a lot more of Sy’s monologues in the deleted scenes(according to wikipedia)). Interesting main character – Sy Parrish is not a pure villain, he is a good man with wrong deeds. Normal conversation making people more distant – this specific “isolating” writing is hugely popular beginning from early 2000s.
- Note that Romanek is a great Kubrick geek. Kubrick’s aspiration for perfect, photographical cinematography has been seen as, by some critics, surreal. Romanek uses Kubrick’s famous track shot here and there.
- And also note that Robin Williams dyed his hair blonde(movies he went blonde – Popeye, Toys and One Hour Photo) in order to hide Sy into the “white” background(according to SAG interview). I guess he was trying to make Sy invisible, thus he’s neglected, isolated, alone, and becomes a perfect stalker.
- Extreme close-up shots, and zoom in&out shots(also Kubrick’s favorite) are present.
- Editing – lets the scene gradually build up, thus more tension. Doesn’t cut up the movie too much.
- What I liked: Acting, cinematography, long shots, surreal scenes.
- What I didn’t like: police confession scene – overused for decades in crime films. Sy’s confession should have been written with more powerful lines.
- The next time I should watch out for: soundtrack, editing, acting, and the overall arrangement of the sequences(why not introduce Sy as a man with unhappy childhood rather than introducing him as nobody – which they did)
- The dream scene where Sy cries blood can be explained even better after viewing the police confession scene at the end. He explains indirectly that he is a tortured man with abnormal childhood, being involved in child pornography taken by his father. In the dream, his inner sadness makes him tear up, but that sadness turned into great anguish, leading Sy to cry out blood. After this incident, in real life, he decides to torture Jakob’s dad(Will) with the exact way Sy’s father did to little Sy.
- This picture showing Jakob’s family with Sy was never taken. In the real world, the family thinks they have nothing to do with Sy, that means he is a stranger. Sy is privately stalking them but publicly he acts carefully around the family, understanding that the family is uncomfortable around him. Thus it’s impossible for them to take pictures together outside the family’s private house. What does this mean? Sy never had a normal, stable family. And he’s (controversy alert) good enough to think Jakob must be happy in his family. He wants to be Jakob’s uncle, if he could. He wants to be involved with the family, and at the same time, protect the young boy’s happy childhood. Sy started taking away the family’s pictures with envy for them having such a happy life together, which he never had, and he also likes to imagine himself as if he’s a part of the family. The director put the picture at the end of the movie to show what Sy wanted. Having a happy family. Probably without being a father.
For those who want to know what this film is about: A stalker who couldn’t get out of his disturbing past committing a hideous crime. It’s about family too. The lesson? No matter how much pain you went through in the past, life goes on. Sy could have had a family of his own, even though he must have dreaded being a father – more than ‘dreading,’ he might have wanted to kill himself rather than entering fatherhood. He could have avoided stalking other families and he could have reconstructed his life. But he knew it wasn’t easy for him. He chose the other option.
I watched the whole 1 hour Robin Williams SAG interview done in 2003, and the interviewer asked this question – WHY didn’t Sy know he was doing wrong? It’s a bad question. One Hour Photo makes you sympathize how Sy’s life turned out to be. Bullying victims grow up with a completely different perception of the world. They become outsiders of the society, and they begin to think and worry in the different way than other normal kids would. Sy grew up having an abnormal and scarring childhood, and there was not much choice for him – it was either him going through normal life going through more pain because he doesn’t know how to have a ‘normal’ family, or him continuing his abnormal life. Although he chose the life of the latter, he knew what was wrong or right. Sy knew he did something terrible that day at the hotel – he ran away, he was hesitant and painful while doing it, and came back to his hotel room feeling horrible. He knew he would be in trouble. He knew what it must have felt like for the couple. But he thought it was the best way to protect Jake, or at least, to warn him. And perhaps, he wanted to take revenge on his absent father.