In the flash-forward opening scene of "One Hour Photo," detectives come into an interrogation room and confront subtly unsettling Sy Parrish (Robin Williams) -- an obsessive mega-mart photo lab employee who gradually came to stalk a customer's family. They have questions about what he had against the family's father and a package of snapshots Sy took just before his arrest for crimes as yet unnamed. But he has only one thing to say about the pictures: "Do you guys have your own lab, or do you have to send it out?"
Following "Death to Smoochy" and "Insomnia," Williams puts the cherry on top of an image-tampering trifecta of psychotic antagonist roles with this unrecognizable performance. Balding and blonde, sporting Sans-a-Belt slacks, Velcro-fastened shoes, a blue smock and a freshly-straightened name tag, Sy blends into the perfectly ordered shelves of his bland, cavernous super-store. He seems harmless enough -- like a desperately lonely 45-year-old who has been socially inept and apprehensive his whole life -- until you see his apartment where he's literally lined the walls with hundreds of prints he's copied over several years from the photos of a pretty customer's seemingly ideal family. Then he seems as quietly menacing as Norman Bates.
In his imagination (some of which comes to life in a uncanny cut-and-paste sequence as the camera pushes in through the glossy finish of Sy's 4x6 prints), the photo clerk sees himself as "Uncle Sy" to this family that barely knows his name. In the course of the film, Sy's obsession, which begins with just making sure their pictures come out perfect, grows into something dangerous.
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