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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

10 years of Flick Filosopher: the power of understatement

I wrote a script for a psychological suspense thriller a few years ago for which I had a particular kind of scary stillness in mind, but not quite like anything I had ever seen on film before. And then I saw One Hour Photo, and knew that this was what I wanted my story to look like on the screen. From my review:

Writer/director Romanek mines all his suspense and emotion from understatement — he knows that whispers draw more true attention than shouts, and so a disconcerting sense of quietude rules One Hour Photo. When we expect hysteria from a character, we get composure; when we expect the film to get big and loud, it stays small and hushed. Williams is so without his own brand of loudness that he seems all the more smothered than another actor might have — his Sy is raw and real, and in the end garners more disconcerting sympathy than you’d expect, after what he does. Together, Romanek and Williams have created the rare horror movie that frightens us only by demonstrating the heartbreaking depths of hollowness humans have the unfortunate capacity to achieve.

Mark Romanek was actually kind enough to read that script of mine when I got in touch with him after being blown away by One Hour Photo (though he eventually passed on it, alas).

review of One Hour Photo, posted 08.21.02

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