My adoration for the work of Robin Williams has seen me traverse some of the best, worst and most interesting movies of his career. Obviously great pieces like Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, Aladdin and the lesser known Boulevard were personal highlights for me. But the common theme throughout all of those films is that Robin Williams was the plucky hero, the underdog, the supporting man with tricks up his sleeve. What would a villainous portrayal from Williams look like? That’s what One Hour Photo intends to find out, and for the most part it’s the basic premise of the movie. What would it be like to have Robin Williams stalk you?
It’s an interesting enough premise, and Williams is as great as you would expect him to be. His performance as Seymour “The Photo Guy” Parrish is a chilling one, never quite reaching its full potential but at the same time hiding a thrilling grandeur to it. Mixing reality and imagination of Parrish, the twisted narrative feels similar to that of The King of Comedy, but to a less impactful extent. Parrish continually tries to engage with the family he preys on, wanting to be in on the family unit, but his persistence and social inabilities pave the way for frequent escalation in his strange behaviour.
Unfortunately, this potential for escalation is never truly fulfilled, and to some degree if it weren’t for the performance of Robin Williams, the movie wouldn’t even be worth watching. There are a ton of movies out there like that, with the likes of The Angriest Man in Brooklyn and Patch Adams proving that the charm of Williams as a performer is just enough to make a movie work. One Hour Photo works very closely with that principle.
Its script isn’t the most interesting or intricate piece of writing, and it’s a shame that the potential of the script is never fully realised. Nothing really happens for the whole period of the movie, what little tension One Hour Photo can provide builds into nothing more than one brief encounter and a swift arrest. It’s all build-up but no pay-off, and the way the film is built up, you’d expect there to be a handful of more glaring obvious and chilling encounters.
By all means is it nice to see Williams go against his career defining typecast as the plucky hero, but it’s just a shame that One Hour Photo doesn’t do all that much with it. A tepid look into the many problems and fixations of a stalker, but never going the whole stretch to make the film interesting. Devoid of any real tension, One Hour Photo proves a nice change of tone for fans of Robin Williams, but not much else.