One Hour Photo
(Click here for Internet Movie Database entry)

     Finally, here is a movie that reveals Wal-Mart as the evil hell that we've always suspected it was!  OK, in the new movie, One Hour Photo, they call it SavMart but we know better.  The oppressive ambiance created in a local Wal-Mart store is just part of what is good about One Hour Photo.  The action centers on an employee (Robin Williams) who runs the photo kiosk at the store.  He is single, has no friends and lives his life vicariously through the photos,  he develops that reveal other people's lives.  He has become attached to one family, in particular, who regularly leaves their photos to be developed.  At first, Williams is just over-the-counter  friendly with the mother (Connie Nielsen) and her young son (Dylan Smith) as they drop off rolls of film.  But, Williams is a man on the edge of the precipice.  And when this idyllic family starts to fall apart, Williams feels compelled to take a more active part in their lives.  The husband (Michael Vartan) has become distant from his family, first because of the pressures of his job and then when he begins an affair with a co-worker.  It's hard to believe that if you were married to Connie Nielsen that you would even look at another woman, let alone have an affair but going to the movies is all about suspending disbelief.  Williams makes sure that Nielsen, who is best known for her role as the Emperor's more than sister in Gladiator,  finds out about her husband's affair by switching rolls of film.  He is obsessive about his work and eventually gets fired by the store manager (Gary Cole) for making extra prints of his favorite family.  This sets off a death spiral as Williams is now free to concentrate on punishing Vartan for ruining his ``family."

     Robin Williams is great is this part.  Robin Williams can be best described by Walt Whitman's lines from Song of Myself, ``Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)"  Williams is all over the map in his comedy.   He can be really great in dramatic roles when he has strongly controlled direction or he can be horribly out of control.  He was wonderful in Awakenings, and  Good Will Hunting, but Patch Adams still gives me bad flashbacks.  In One Hour Photo, Williams is extremely self-contained.  Everything in his life is turned back inside himself but he is only holding back an inevitable explosion.  The rest of the cast are good but they are all just two-dimensional representations seen in photos through Williams' eyes.  This film was written and directed by Mark Romanek, who hasn't done much previously.  He does a nice job of creating Williams inner world.  We see everything through Williams eyes and experience his daydreams and nightmares.  We feel the world pressing in on us just as Williams does.  After the up-and-down experiences I've had seeing Robin Williams' movies,  I didn't know whether I wanted to see One Hour Photo.  But it is definitely worth seeing.  When you see Williams climbing the walls on David Letterman, it is easy to forget that he has been nominated four times for Oscars (Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, The Fisher King, and Good Will Hunting), winning for the last one.  He may get another nomination here.