All the photographs are of one family, the Yorkins. He's only ever spoken to them in the course of his work - but in his fantasy world, he's their Uncle Sy, welcome guest and beloved family friend. They're a perfect family, and to validate his fantasies, he needs them to stay that way. So when he uncovers evidence that the husband is having an affair, Sy begins to unravel. His awkward attempts to strike up a real relationship with them fail miserably, and his boss wants to know why so many extra copies of certain photographs aren't properly accounted for. As his life collapses around him, Sy embarks upon a course of violent, appropriately cinematic revenge...
Shifting his career renaissance up a gear after Insomnia, Robin Williams immerses himself completely in the role of Sy Parrish. It's a performance of real genius, revealing vast depths of emotion through the tiniest of gestures. And just when you thought you had Parrish all figured out, he pulls out all the stops for a heart-rending final scene that turns the whole story upside down, and features the best ever use of photographs in a film. How Williams failed to win an Oscar nomination is beyond me (and I really never thought I'd say that...)
Wringing tension out of the simplest situations, and never shying from the brutality of Sy's final mental collapse, writer/director Romanek delivers an unusual thriller that's both a gripping and a deeply uncomfortable watch. Astonishingly, he has only one previous feature to his name, 1985's minor cult movie Static. Judging from this disturbing, tender, and consistently tense film, let's hope he doesn't make us wait 17 years for another one.