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August 28, 2002


One Hour Photo: eh. Let

One Hour Photo: eh. Let me say first that I don't really like Robin Williams as an actor, or at least, I don't like him in any movie he's done since, say, Garp, so this is the role I have been waiting for him to play for something like 20 years.

And, in a way, it was worth the wait: he does a much better job playing the baddie in this one than he did in the flat Insomnia.

Here, he fleshes out a caricature, and has a calm, almost unintentional menace that is fun to watch.

Elsewhere, the movie's cast isn't very inspiring: in fact, except for Eric Benton, they are almost invisible, which maybe is part of the point. Benton's quiet manner as the lead detective is memorable and compelling, even though he probably only has about 10 minutes of screen time.

Former music video director Mark Romanek puts together some interesting visuals, but where you least expect them: in the aisles of a Wal-Mart-like store, in a dimly lit hotel room, in a parking garage, etc. He does a nice job of contrasting the "Tweeds"-catalog interiors of the main family's home with the sterility of the department store.

I'm also impressed that Romanek wrote the movie himself. Some of the dialog is a little clunky, particularly the expository stuff in the beginning, but eventually things get moving, themes get developed, and it all ties in. One of the major themes is commodification and consumerism and (apparently) the emotional sterility that these seem to engender. Both Williams' character and the cipher-family seem to suffer from it, one in more obvious ways than the other.

Is it a great movie, or a particularly subtle one? No, but, it works, particularly in the back half. Romanek makes a few decisions that keeps it away from inevitablility and cliche, but he could have made other decisions that would have made the movie bolder than it is.

posted by adm at 4:45 PM | #


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