One Hour Photo (Rental) (2002)

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Rental Version Only
Available for Rent

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 92:00
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Mark Romanek
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Robin Williams
Connie Nielsen
Michael Vartan
Dylan Smith
Erin Daniels
Eriq La Salle
Paul H. Kim
Gary Cole
Lee Garlington
Case ?
RPI Rental Music Reinhold Heil
Johnny Klimek


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Without having seen it at the cinema, I bought the Region 1 version of One Hour Photo as soon as it was released, due to the outstanding reviews which its star, Robin Williams attracted. At the end of the movie, I felt like the crazy nurse from "Misery" (Kathy Bates). I stood up, turned off the DVD player and exclaimed ..."It's not fair. Where's the cock-a-doody final reel"? Having just watched the Region 4 rental release, I am slightly embarrassed by the shallow initial response the movie elicited from me. This is a very good movie, provided you are prepared to be scared in a more subtle way - this movie does not contain the outright shocks of "Misery", but is a more subtle chilling psychological character study.

    One Hour Photo is the story of one lonely man's obsessive search for love and a sense of family. Robin Williams stars as Seymour "Sy" Parrish - and I do mean stars - a clerk who works in a film processing mini-lab at the local Savmart. Sy is self-evidently obsessive-compulsive, paying excessive attention to his own appearance and to the quality of the photographs with which he is entrusted. That this kind of lab can be found in any local K-Mart in Australia brings the true chill to this film, this innocuous, very familiar setting in which the "guy next door" could be Sy.

    The movie opens with the interrogation of a sad, compliant Sy in a local police station. His only request is to see the photographs which the policeman (Eriq La Salle) has in his possession. He begins to recount the story of what brought him to this point in his life. Sy works in the Savmart as the head of the (two-man) photo-developing booth. It quickly becomes apparent that he takes more than a professional interest in one of his "most important" customers - Nina Yorkin (well acted by Connie Neilsen), when he subtly orders three sets of prints from each reel of her films, rather than the two which she quite plainly requests. The fact that he knows her address by heart and exactly how old her son is sends a shiver down your spine as you realise all is not quite right with Sy's interest in this customer.

    As the plot unfolds, we learn more of Sy's obsession with the Yorkins including architect father, Will (Michael Vartan) and nine year-old Jake (Dylan Smith). He has taken a vicarious interest in the Yorkins since the birth of Jake, and fantasises that he is part of their, apparently ideal, nuclear family. Indeed he mentally assumes the persona of "Uncle" Sy, going so far as to show a local waitress the Yorkin's family photos and explaining that Jake is his nephew.

    Sy's world implodes when his obnoxious manager, Bill Owens (Gary Cole), challenges him about the extra, unpaid for prints which have been logged on the counter of the film-processing equipment. Unable (or unwilling) to explain the discrepancy, Sy is sacked, and while serving his notice, finds evidence to show that Will is being unfaithful to his beautiful wife. This collapse of Sy's universe is more than his fragile mind can stand - and he decides to punish those who have shattered his life...

    This film is almost great. Robin Williams really demonstrates his ability to act a darker character role, a tightly coiled (actually overwound) spring. This is, without a doubt, Williams' strongest performance as an actor and One Hour Photo is well worth watching for his performance alone. There are a couple of minor plot holes which I found slightly unbelievable. For example - (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) why would a photo-clerk have a key which opens a locked display case of hunting knives? Who took the photographs of Will and Maya (Erin Daniels) making love in various places - a self-timer and a tripod seems unlikely given the varying location of the photographs. Overall I still felt slightly short-changed by the movie; in my opinion, more could have been made of the ending and the chill factor could have been raised a few notches further in the final reel. What could have been a classic thriller becomes a very good movie with an outstanding performance by the lead.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The overall video transfer of this disc is very good, as might be expected for a movie of such recent vintage, falling just short of reference quality.

    The film is presented in a ratio of 1.85:1 and it has been 16x9 enhanced. This is the same as the original theatrical aspect ratio.

    The transfer is usually razor sharp and it does not suffer from excessive grain.

    Blacks are solid with no low-level noise evident and shadow depth is good. Much of the transfer is very bright; the frequent shots inside the Savmart have a near-surgical cleanliness to them. There is frequent use of primary colours in the movie, and they are all flawlessly represented - bright, vibrant and free from any hint of colour bleeding. Some scenes have a slightly green tinge, but given the quality of colours throughout, I am sure this is the deliberate artistic choice of the director.

    The transfer is free from significant MPEG artefacts. On the other hand, film-to-video artefacts are more common with a slightly annoying level of aliasing evident on Sy's glasses throughout (see for example 05:00 and 42:09) and on table-edges, signs and wooden blinds through the film. I found the instances on Sy's glasses to be mildly distracting, as they are often shown in close-up. Interlacing crops up during the scene when Sy is watching "The Simpsons" on television. Edge enhancement, as might be expected for such a sharp transfer, is occasionally noticeable but this is not distracting. Telecine wobble is mildly apparent in the opening titles, but unnoticeable during the feature.

    Film artefacts are almost totally absent. There are a few minor scratches and flecks on the film, but these are never distracting, as would be expected from an almost new source.

    There is a single English for the hearing-impaired subtitle track present. The subtitles follow the dialogue very closely.

    This is a single sided, single layered disc (DVD 5) so there is no layer change present.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The overall audio quality of this disc is very good with no defects present.

    The solitary audio track is an atmospheric Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack in English recorded at 448 kbps.

    Dialogue was always clear. Robin Williams' frequent narration is crisply delivered through the centre channel. Audio synch was never noticed as a problem.

    The original music is credited to Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek and does a marvellous job of raising the tension at several points during the film. It is very well suited to the film and does its job well without drowning out any dialogue.

    The surround channels were active throughout, carrying the musical score and background effects, without being over-used. They are particularly well used during several tension-building moments, and can give you quite a start from time to time. There are several very effective occasions where the sound seems to shrink in from every corner of the room and then explode back out of the front speakers.

    The subwoofer was quite heavily used throughout to build tension and provide a suitable sense of impending doom. This is a surprisingly bass-heavy soundtrack, despite being a mainly dialogue-driven movie, and the subwoofer is used along with the other speakers to deliver a very full, enveloping soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Being a bare-bones rental version, there are no extras on this disc.

Menu

    The initial menu is a static photograph from the movie. It offers the meagre choice of subtitles on/off or one of thirty-two chapter stops.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 sell-through version of this DVD includes the following extras:

    The Region 1 disc also has a very well planned menu-system, cleverly based around a Savmart photo envelope. Hopefully the Region 4 disc will contain at least these extras when it is released for sale.

Summary

    One Hour Photo is a very good, but not quite brilliant movie. Robin Williams gives a bravura performance as the obsessive-compulsive Seymour Parrish and is a joy to watch. Well worth the viewing time, but slightly spoiled for me by the anti-climactic ending. With just a little further work, this could have become a truly classic thriller.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Sunday, May 04, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-344 Multi-Region, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationONKYO TX-DS484
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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