in a chillingly compulsive style
genuinely unsettling amalgam of Franz Kafka and Stanley Kubrick,
the uncompromising crime melodrama ONE HOUR PHOTO, by writer-director
Mark Romanek, is a portrait of a perfectionistic photo=technician
emerging from an antiseptic consumer culture cocoon on a psychopath
in full flight and frenzy.
Seymour "Sy" Parrish (Robin Williams) toils obsessively in an
authoritarian and unfeelingly bureaucratic big-box superstore. A solitary
non-entity Parrish is a devotee of the happy Yorkin family whose snapshots
of upper middle class affluence he has tirelessly misappropriated in order
to create a shrine to their memories in his arid apartment.
When he has been fired for his thefts of the stores customers
photos Sy swiftly loses it, revealing the underlying nature of his assiduously
well-maintained preoccupation with the entirely illusory idyll of the
Filmed in a chillingly compulsive style that captures the nuances of society
captivated by acquisition, first and foremost, personal fulfillment is
sought throughout this constipated saga of soul searching by the acting
of buying stuff. Sy and the Yorkins aberrantly pursue contentment by utter
material self-indulgence. The motive-force here is envy of the well-heeled
by the minions of a ruthless penny-pinching Social Darwinian economy,
a truly religious devotion to The Almighty Buck.
Thus in point of fact Romaneks ONE HOUR PHOTO is a ruthless dissection,
in Marxist terms, of the self-defeating soullessness of consumerism. The
soul consumed by wanting and getting more, for its own sake. Such lust
derailing contentment per se.
Romaneks exquisitely polished movie also captures remorselessly
an obsession with the superficial and superfluous perfection of outward
appearance that has rapidly become the lynch-pin or archstone of todays
society. Sy Parrish and his victims are at all times impeccably clad and
groomed. Their environments are pure, spotless and devoid of apparent
imperfections. As are the law enforcement officers who are obligated to
intervene in this bizarre family romance. Everyone and everything in sight
is a brand name, overtly or covertly.
Hell does not await us. We are in it already.
Grant September 2002
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