Monday 7 October 2002

monday, monday

I only half jumped out of my skin this morning, and fell back into it to listen to the radio for a few minutes before reluctantly getting out of bed. Yes, the radio is definitely a far less traumatising way to wake up.

"One Hour Photo" was very well done; Robin Williams is surprisingly good (and I think much better in this role than the similar character he plays in "Insomnia"). Williams is Sy "the photo guy", a quiet middle-aged loner who works at a Walmart-esque photo counter. His life is an orderly routine: knowing the habits of his regular customers (such as the lady who only takes pictures of her cats and the plastic surgeon's nurse with her "before and after" shots), his meticulous attention to detail in the photos he develops, the diner where the waitress knows him by name, and his immaculate apartment. He is gentle, far more dedicated to his work than even his boss thinks is acceptable, and gains the sympathy of his customers who can sense his lonliness. He is also a delusional stalker. Sy is obsessed with the Yorkin family, plastering his wall with prints he's duplicated from their rolls of film and mentally inserting his image in these family shots - desperate to become "Uncle Sy". The cinematography in this film is incredibly effective - Sy's world is filled with brutally stark fluorescent light, while the Yorkins are bathed in warm, earthy tones.

What makes Williams' character so brilliant is his ability to make us sympathetic, regardless of his actions and delusions. He is dangerous and disturbing, yet has morals we can condone. He seems more outraged by a husband's infidelity than his wife, causing Sy to demand "What is wrong with these people?". There is an explanation for his behaviour that is revealed near the end of the film, which doesn't dismiss his actions but certainly makes us understand how he got there. Unlike characters like Travis Bickle in "Taxi Driver", Sy doesn't go on a bullet-riddled moral rampage. It's what he doesn't do in the final scenes that surprises us; and this is how he maintains our pity.

Can you tell I took film studies courses in university? Ah, to be young and pretentious again.

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