One Hour Photo

Bomb Rating: 

Director Mark Romanek apparently had some revelation when he walked into a Wal-Mart and was scared half to death by the octogenarian at the entrance.

Some of us walk into a Wal-Mart and instantly recognize what a soul-sucking enterprise it is. What else do you say about a place that hires old people to work instead of teenagers in order to limit the number of years they'll have to pay any legal settlement? What else do you say about a place that can put small businesses out of business faster than the Ebola virus? What else do you say about a place so sterile that West Nile-infected mosquitoes explode if they come within 100 yards of the it?

Director Mark Romanek apparently had some revelation when he walked into a Wal-Mart and was scared half to death by the octogenarian at the entrance who greeted him like it was the last greeting she might ever give.

Sy Parrish (Robin Williams) works at SavMart, a big box store whose color scheme is so grotesquely generic that Target employees can walk in there and actually swell with pride over their career paths. Sy processes photos, and he's been processing the photos of Will (Michael Vartan) and Nina Yorkin (Connie Nielsen) and their young son Jake (Dylan Smith) for so long that he imagines the perfect life pictured in the photos must actually represent reality. He develops an extremely unhealthy fascination with becoming "Uncle Sy." However, when he finds out that there's a dark side to the Yorkins, he flips out.

Romanek appears to be yet another of those filmmakers who thinks his insights into the complexities of visual culture actually constitute art. Here's the quantum leap Romanek has made: We're a culture that too easily derives unrealistic expectations from images, and as a result, the real people who live behind imagined ones are bound to disappoint. I'm guessing that when Todd Bridges and Robert Downey, Jr. hit rock bottom, Romanek had to plant himself in his comfy chair and have a good long cry.

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