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One hour photo

Threat advisory: Elevated - Significant risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Sy Parrish (Robin Williams) is a mild-mannered photo lab technician who has worked his entire adult life at a discount store's one hour photo shop. A lonely man, Sy derives his self-esteem from his craft developing photos in the lab and lives his life through those same photographs. His fascination with the Yorkin family, whose pictures he has developed for years, turns into an obsession when Sy invents a familial connection and starts meddling with their personal life.

Theatrical propaganda posters

One hour photo image

Target demographic movie keyword propaganda

  • Film thriller photography stalker

Persons of interest

  • Robin Williams .... Seymour Parrish
  • Connie Nielsen .... Nina Yorkin
  • Michael Vartan .... Will Yorkin
  • Dylan Smith .... Jakob Yorkin
  • Eriq La Salle .... Detective James van der Zee
  • Erin Daniels .... Maya Burson
  • Paul H Kim .... Yoshi Araki
  • Lee Garlington .... Waitress
  • Gary Cole .... Bill Owens
  • Marion Calvert .... Mrs von Unwerth
  • David Moreland .... Mr Siskind
  • Mark Romanek .... Screenwriter
  • Mark Romanek .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

One sad man.

If not for the sudden, gushing self-revelation that Sy Parrish was abused as a child (leading him to an interest in anti-social behaviour and photography, if there's a difference) One hour photo would be a tight little film about a John Howard-esque character's descent from mediocrity into hell. The development (sorry) of his fascination for the Yorkin family reveals an intensity of character that draws you in; at times you want Sy to be a part of the family, at other times you're just glad he's on a different continent.

Another unfortunate part is the soundtrack. Soundtracks should gently support everything else that comes on-screen (they are generally the last part of the film to be added to the mix because the music has to match the editing). Soundtracks should be subtle because non-verbal auditory clues work on the unconscious before the conscious. The "Danger! Danger!" bass notes of One hour photo are about as subtle as a Scud missile. In point of fact, this film could even have been shown without a soundtrack, not that Hollywood is ready for that kind of radical thinking.

Robin Williams is receiving all sorts of kudos from all sorts of critics for his performance, and I do have to say that it is probably his best "dramatic" performance, probably because he not only doesn't look like himself, but he doesn't use all those old tricks of his that everyone knows and recognises. That's a good thing because, to a film critic, the role is always more important than the actor. To studio executives (and some audience members) it's the other way round.

One hour photo is a depressing film about a depressing man with almost no action to relieve Sy's grey, maudlin, depressing life. In keeping with the main character, it's not a great film, but it will still leave you wanting to cut your wrists.

Media intelligence (DVD)

  • Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound
  • Languages: English
  • Picture: Widescreen
  • Special features:
    • Commentaries: Mark Romanek and Robin Williams
    • Featurettes:
      • Charlie Rose Show
      • Sundance: Anatomy of a scene
      • Cinemax: The making of "One hour photo"

Security censorship classification

M (Adult themes, low level violence, low level coarse language)

Surveillance time

96 minutes (1:36 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 30 January 2003
DVD rental: 14 May 2003
VHS rental: 14 May 2003
DVD retail: 10 September 2003
VHS retail: 10 September 2003

Cinema surveillance images

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