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One Hour Photo is a 2002 American psychological thriller film written & directed by Mark Romanek, starring Robin Williams, Michael Vartan, Connie Nielsen, Gary Cole & Eriq La Salle.


Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about
the entire movie.

Seymour "Sy" Parrish (Robin Williams) is a photo technician at SavMart's one-hour photo developing clinic. He leads a solitary life outside of the "heaven-like" hyperreality atmosphere of the department store. Every day, he labors to ensure his customers get the best quality photos possible. His work is his life as he has no one and nothing to go home to at the end of each day; he spends his evenings sitting alone in his barren living room, watching television.

Sy's favorite customers are the Yorkin family: husband Will (Michael Vartan), wife Nina (Connie Nielsen), and their son Jake (Dylan Smith). He has developed their photos for years and has developed an obsession with the family. He idolizes their happiness and affluence, memorizing every personal detail about them.

Sy secretly makes his own copies of the Yorkins' photos from the film negatives and then puts them on a wall in his apartment in a massive collage. He fantasizes about being a member of their family and sharing in the love he assumes they feel. He is painfully shy and socially inept, however, and his attempts to become closer to the family are gently rebuffed.

Sy eventually manages to spark a connection with Nina when he pretends to be interested in a book he noticed she purchased in the store. Nina asks Sy personal questions about his life, realizing that he is a lonely man, something only Jake had noticed earlier.

The next day, his boss Bill (Gary Cole) fires him for a large amount of inexplicable additional prints. While inspecting his photos for the last time, Sy discovers that Will is having an extramarital affair and his idyllic conception of the Yorkins as the "perfect" family is shattered.

Sy surreptitiously places photos of Will and his mistress, Maya Burson (Erin Daniels), into a packet of photos that Nina was scheduled to pick up at SavMart, in order to make her aware of her husband's infidelity. Sy comes to hate and envy Will, who has everything Sy longs for, yet does not seem to appreciate what he has.

Sy follows and takes pictures of Bill's young daughter, and sends them to Bill as a threat. Yoshi (another employee who works at SavMart) discovers the pictures and turns them over to Bill, leading to a police investigation against Sy.

While detectives Van Der Zee (Eriq La Salle) and Outerbridge (Clark Gregg) discover Sy's obsession, Sy confronts Will and Maya during a rendezvous in their hotel room. Armed with a knife and a camera, Sy forces the lovers to pose naked in sexual positions while he takes pictures. After the confrontation, Sy discovers that the police have arrived at the hotel and he attempts to escape.

Inadvertently leaving through an emergency exit, Sy trips an alarm and Van Der Zee pursues him while Outerbridge discovers Will and Maya, physically unharmed, but deeply traumatized. The police apprehend Sy in the parking garage as he attempts to make a break for his car. Upon being arrested, Sy claims, "I just took pictures."

Van Der Zee interrogates Sy and asks him why he terrorized the Yorkins. Sy states that he can tell Van Der Zee is a good man, and not the sort of father who would take "disgusting, sick, degrading pictures" of his children doing "things that children shouldn't do". (The implication, confirmed by Romanek, is that Sy's father exploited him for child pornography.) Sy then asks for the pictures he took at the hotel, which Van Der Zee has described as "evidence". They appear to be only shots of objects and furnishings of a hotel room.

The film closes with an "imagined" family picture of the Yorkins with Will's arm around a smiling Sy.


  • Robin Williams as Seymour "Sy" Parrish
  • Michael Vartan as Will Yorkin
  • Connie Nielsen as Nina Yorkin
  • Dylan Smith as Jake Yorkin
  • Gary Cole as Bill Owens, Manager
  • Erin Daniels as Maya Burson
  • Eriq La Salle as Det. James Van Der Zee
  • Clark Gregg as Det. Paul Outerbridge
  • Paul H. Kim as Yoshi Araki


Romanek intended the film to be much longer, but the studio ordered it to be cut short and elements rearranged out of concerns about commerciality.

Also, several of Sy's narrative monologues were removed, and several scenes were re-shot with fewer lines.

The original version also has older musical scores that were not used in the final product. A director's cut is not available to buy, but it was shown at the Sundance Film Festival.

Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor composed the original film score, but Romanek decided not to use it.

Robin Williams prepared for the role of Sy Parrish by training for two and-a-half days in a Southern California photo development lab.

In commentary, Romanek has gone on to state that he was partially inspired by the films of 'lonely men' from the 1970s, notably "Taxi Driver."

In the DVD commentary, Romanek says that Jack Nicholson was first approached to play the lead character, but he turned the role down.


Box Office

The limited release of "One Hour Photo" premiered in seven theaters where it debuted at #24 at the box office, grossing $321,515 in its opening weekend.

The wide theatrical release was on September 13, 2002 and debuted at #3 at the box office, grossing $8,006,660 in its opening weekend.

The film made just over $8 million that weekend, and went on to gross $31,597,131 in the US, with an additional $20,626,175 in overseas territories, for an international total of $52,223,306.

"One Hour Photo" closed in theaters on January 5, 2003 after 138 days in the theaters.

Critical Reception

"One Hour Photo" opened to generally positive reviews, earning raves from critics such as Roger Ebert & Leonard Maltin.

The film has an 81% positive rating on the review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes. The film's aggregate score at Metacritic is 64 out of 100.

The San Francisco Chronicle said even though the film wasn't "nearly as intelligent, thoughtful or penetrating as it promises to be", Robin Williams' performance in the film made it "impossible to dismiss", calling it his "fullest and yet most restrained effort".


Critics' Choice Movie Awards

  • Best Actor: Robin Williams (nominated)

Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association

  • Best Actor: Robin Williams (nominated)

Online Film Critics Society

  • Best Actor: Robin Williams (nominated)

Satellite Awards

  • Best Actor-Motion Picture: Robin Williams (nominated)
  • Best Film Editing: Jeffrey Ford (nominated)

Saturn Awards

  • Best Actor: Robin Williams (won)
  • Best Action\Adventure\Thriller Film (nominated)
  • Best Supporting Actress: Connie Nielsen (nominated)
  • Best Writing: Mark Romanek (nominated)
  • Best Music: Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek (nominated)

2003 Art Directors Guild

  • Excellence in Production Design Award-Contemporary Film: Tom Foden (production designer) and Michael Manson (art director) (nominated)

2003 Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards

  • Critics Choice Award for Best Actor: Robin Williams (2nd place)

2002 Deuville Film Festival

  • Premiere Audience Award: Mark Romanek (won)
  • Audience Award: Mark Romanek (won)
  • Jury Special Prize: Mark Romanek (won)
  • Grand Special Prize: Mark Romanek (nominated)

2003 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards

  • Best Actor: Robin Williams (won)
  • Best Supporting Actress: Connie Nielsen (nominated)

2003 International Horror Guild

  • IHG Award for Best Movie (nominated)

2003 Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards

  • Sierra Award for Best Actor: Robin Williams (nominated)

2002 Locarno International Film Festival

  • Golden Leopard: Mark Romanek (nominated)

Robert Festival (2003)

  • Best American Film (Årets amerikanske film): Mark Romanek (director) (nominated)

2002 Sundance Film Festival

  • Grand Jury Prize-Dramatic: Mark Romanek (nominated)

Young Artist Awards

  • Dylan Smith: Best Performance in a Feature Film-Supporting Young Actor (nominated)

Theatrical Trailer


One Hour Photo Trailer