Wednesday, February 17, 2010

One Hour Photo - Film Review

One Hour Photo
Brilliant. A movie in which photography plays a central role that actually speaks intelligently about photography. Okay, so the main character, Sy, is a haunted lunatic on the edge, but he's tech in a one hour photo lab that actually gives a shit about proper colour correction! This guy is my hero... except for the whole creepiness factor. But, you have to be a little obsessive to be a genius.

Colour, of course, plays a central role in the film as outlined in the "Anatomy of a Scene" special feature. Who hasn't felt that sanitized cold fluorescent whiteness of a big box store like SavMart? And then the warmth of the colours of the real word when you step back outside? And the off kilter colours of your life if you're a needy lunatic loner on the edge? I mean, everyone knows what that looks like... right?

The sequence inside the mini-lab developer was cool, and the warmth of the colour in that sequence contrasted very well with the coldness of the outside of other machines in the movie, such as the camera used to take Sy's mug shots at the police station. Also, I loved the shout outs to Stanley Kubrick - the similarities of the mug shot camera to the HAL 9000 in s "2001: A Space Odyssey", and Kubrick's influence is clear in the creepy use of linear perspective in the bleeding eyes scene of Sy in the SavMart isle.

I appreciated Sy's commentary about photography. For example, "Someone looking through our photo album would conclude that we had led a joyous, leisurely existence free of tragedy. No one ever takes a photograph of something they want to forget." He's speaking, of course, about family photo albums, and I've often wondered what aliens or future anthropologists would make of our lives if all they had to go on was family photo albums. Probably that we are ridiculously happy creatures. Of course, people are not that ridiculously happy, and in fact some, like Sy, are ridiculously unhappy.

One criticism though, and this is something I hate about Hollywood in general: they beat you over the head with the obvious. In "One Hour Photo", Sy brilliantly places Will Yorkin's (the husband's) incriminating photos of Will's affair in Nina's (Will's wife's) photo order. Sy stakes out the store until Nina picks up the photos, and then Sy follows her vehicle. You see Nina's car driving down the highway from Sy's point of view, and we're waiting for Nina to see the incriminating photos. Then Nina's car suddenly swerves on the highway and pulls over. Next, we see the interior of Nina's car and a very upset Nina looking at photos of her husband and his girlfriend. Okay, right there - we didn't need to actually see Nina looking at the photos - we KNEW that that was why she lost control of the car on the highway and pulled over. It would have been much more effective if all we saw after the swerve on the highway was her car pulled over, and Sy watching. Then Nina could have driven away. We would have known perfectly well what had just happened without having it explained to us like weren't capable of critical thought. But, that's Hollywood for you; I guess they have to appeal to the average intelligence of their largest audience.


  1. Hey Jonah! I saw this movie when it first came out so I was probably a lot younger and I only remember being traumatized, so maybe i'll have to give it another shot.
    I like what you said about to be a genius you have to be slightly crazy, very true...

  2. hey Jonah, I agree all about what you said about the lighting in the different scenes to help portray the emotions being felt by the characters. And that scene with the bloody eye is very creepy. I would have to say though that I liked how when she pulled over on the side of the road the cameras went inside the van to show what was happening. Yes, we as viewers can out two and two together and know why she pulled over, but it was good to see the emotion she was expressing by seeing the photos, rather than just seeing her pull over, sit there and then pull back onto the road. I did think, however, it was unrealistic that she did not notice that she was being followed forever by the vehicle Sy was in, especially when he pulled over and sat there not even that far away from her vehicle, and then pulling out back onto the highway as soon as she does. I thought that was pretty dumb.