THERE’S NOTHING MORE DANGEROUS THAN A FAMILIAR FACE.
This film reminds me a little bit of The Stepfather (1987); we see the protagonists in both movies try to control a family’s happiness. It’s an unsettling directing debut by Mark Romanek that stays credible and avoids a clichéd, bloody showdown. Connie Nielsen is good as the mother, but it was Robin Williams who surprised the world with his resolute performance as an awfully lonely human being, who develops film at a mart and gets far too attached to a family that’s always been his customers. His only goal is to make sure the family stays safe… and together. His obsession is frightening, but Williams still makes you care about him – and fear isolation in your own life.
2002-U.S. 96 min. Color. Produced by Pamela Koffler, Christine Vachon, Stan Wlodkowski. Written and directed by Mark Romanek. Cast: Robin Williams (Sy Parrish), Connie Nielsen (Nina Yorkin), Michael Vartan (Will Yorkin), Gary Cole, Dylan Smith, Eriq LaSalle.
Last word: “[Studio head Peter Rice] wanted the film to play more like a thriller, and he kind of shook my hand and said, ‘You know, ostensibly, you have final cut. At this studio, we’re not gonna change the film or turn it into something you don’t want it to be [or] demand that you make changes. We just can’t be that way at Fox Searchlight.’ But what he did instead is he let me keep cutting and cutting and keep trying things… and I loved editing so much; it’s by far my favorite part of that process, that I just kept doing it until they sort of hit on an edit that they liked and they said, ‘Okay, you’re done.’ In retrospect, and I have had this conversation with Peter since, there were some really interesting idiosyncratic scenes in the film that I wish were still [there] because I don’t think they would have hurt the box office […] I do have some regrets about some things that were removed from the film, but none of it was forced on me.” (Romanek, Indiewire)