As an actor, there was one thing Robin Williams excelled at – he could effortlessly do broad, hilarious comedy or do the complete opposite and become an intense dramatic actor. His work in One Hour Photo is probably his best dramatic work, and proves that Robin Williams is much more than a comedian – he was one of the greatest actors of his generation.
A spiritual successor to the solitude films such as Taxi Driver, One Hour Photo is a creepy character portrait of Seymour Parrish, a pathetic but good-hearted man. He may be creepy and exhibits some psychotic tendencies, but when you look at his motivations, you can see what he did wasn’t at all right, but it came from a place of caring, just not in a way normal people tend to care about others.
Obsession has been a popular film trope – is there anything scarier than your seemingly tranquil life being the only thing someone else thinks about, threatening to bring it down? It is all a part of film realism never letting viewers forget that bad people aren’t only in prisons – they walk our streets and we interact with them everyday, and there are absolutley no limits to the evil in some people. Some, like Sy, act out of a warped sense of caring, others completely random and equally terrifying. One Hour Photo tackles obsession well, allowing the viewers not to stand on the outside, watching this man, but instead get into his mind and understand (or try to) how it works (this is particularly effective through some truly chilling narration by Williams). It is a terrifying portrait of a painfully disturbed human being.
One Hour Photo is an impressive film, because it never resorts to cheap thrills or scare tactics. It accomplishes its creepy tone through character development and a wicked sense of humor (I won’t ever forget the shockingly hilarious image of Williams sitting on the toilet of the house he breaks into). Like Taxi Driver and other similar films about lonely men who become obsessed about someone, it is gritty and terrifying, but you can’t help feel a connection to this pathetic loner – what he does is terrible, but a small part of you wants him to succeed, because we’ve formed such an unlikely bond with him.
I really enjoyed One Hour Photo, mainly because it showed a very different side to Robin Williams talents. I swore I wouldn’t get sentimental about him, because I think we’re all not quite over his tragic passing, but the fact is that this film showed Robin really becoming dedicated to a role, changing his personality and transforming himself to Seymour. There is hardly a glimpse of the zany, hilarious Robin Williams we think we know, and that’s brilliant, because it just proves how great of an actor he was.
I am just glad we’re living in the era of digital photography…