2002 (LA/NY)
Rated: R for adult language, adult content, strong sexual content, and sexual themes
Genre: Suspense Thriller Drama
Directed By: Mark Romanek
Running Time: 1:38
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date:
DVD Features:
Audio Commentary - 1. Mark Romanek - Director, Robin Williams - Star
Interviews - 1. Charlie Rose excerpt
Featurettes - 1. Cinemax Special
Trailers - 1. Original Theatrical Trailer
If you like this, try: The Fan, Cape Fear, The Night Caller, Taxi Driver


"We fear things because we've experienced them." - Sy

Sy Parrish (Robin Williams  Insomnia, Good Will Hunting) loves his job at the one hour photo center in "SavMart", perhaps a little too much. After developing pictures for many people day after day for fifteen years, he begins forming an attachment with the Yorkin's who've been bringing their pictures to him for years. But after getting fired from his job, he yearns for the family's love and discovers they're not the people he thought they were. Disillusioned, he sets out to seek revenge on them.
     This film reminded me very much of Scorsese's "Taxi Driver"; a man who is basically lonely and hopes for someone to love him, takes his job seriously and feels he must protect the people who he works for. In many ways, Sy is similar to Deniro's character in "Taxi Driver" but a lot scarier, and what makes him and this story scary is that these people truly exist in our world. They're the people who develop our photos, who drive us to work, who take care of our kids, and in some sense they're just blurbs in our hectic day, but sometimes, to them. we're more than just customers. We never learn about Sy's past, only of his world, his cold sterile world in which he's enveloped in. He works at the large shopping mall that is often shown as an empty white sterile blank world, but is immediately dimmed when Sy is at his job. Throughout the film he introduces the many regular costumers that come to his job, and the not so regular customers. Robin Williams proves he's a better dramatic actor than he is a comedic actor because he skillfully and brilliantly changes his appearance to the point where he's barely recognizable. Williams is masterful in every way shape and form in this movie, as he manages to completely change his mannerisms and neurotic look and incredibly morphs into this insane man. What's more terrifying about this character is that the movie tends to downplay his psychotic tendencies which increases the tension when he's onscreen.
     Director and writer Romanek lets the audience know that this character is capable of committing horrible acts of crime but her never does, because Romanek knows that it's the anticipation of something that's truly creepy, not actually doing it. Romanek enables the viewing audience to enter the mind of this madman who often yearns for a life he doesn't have. Connie Nielsen (Gladiator, Basic) is great as Nina, a woman who is equally lonely and vulnerable, and also yearns for love and affection and never really becomes aware of Sy until the end. At certain points of the film we get to experience Sy's twisted fantasies in which he involves himself in this families lives, at one point declaring he feels like "Uncle Sy". The cinematography is brilliant often depicting the world in which Sy lives in as cold, sterile and completely void of emotions and warmth we he walks around this dim shopping mall which he calls home walking through the bright and cold shelves. The atmosphere quickly shifts into warmer scenic colors whenever the family steps onto screen with the character Sy.

Unfortunately, the gorgeous cinematography in this film is the true star as there's barely any focus on the characters including Sy who I would have liked to learn more about. The scenery and beautiful direction seem to outshine the cast and their performances throughout the film and it's sad because this is a truly good movie. We never get to learn why the Yorkin's act the way they act within their actions and decisions, so we never felt bad for them when Sy inflicted his psychological games upon them.

This is a brilliant, incredibly directed film with excellent performances all around from Nielsen, and Williams who deserves an Oscar nod.

  • Robin Williams had to shave most of his arms, upper chest and hands for this movie because of his extremely hairy body.