S1mone

aka SIMONE

Movie Review by EDF

Starring: Al Pacino, Catherine Keener, Winona Ryder, Rachel Roberts, Jay Mohr

Director: Andrew Niccol

How fake is Hollywood? Well, I think we all have an opinion on what is right and wrong about Hollywood. From the strange and paranoid world of GATTACA to the goldfish bowl like TRUMAN SHOW comes S1M0NE, written, produced and directed by Andrew Niccol, the guy behind the aforementioned movies. What Niccol has done is to give us a glimpse of what just might be hitting our cinema screens in the not too distant future.

Viktor Taransky (Al Pacino) knows this is his last chance to redeem himself as a reliable director. The only problem he is having with his production is his leading actress Nicola Anders (Winona Ryder). When the unreasonable clauses in her contract are not met to her satisfaction, Anders walks off the production leaving Viktor high and dry. With the studio on his back looking for the finished print of his movie and the daunting task of recasting the part of the leading actress, the opportunity to solve his problems arrives in the form of the dying Hank Aleno (Elias Koteas). Revealing himself as Viktor’s number one fan, Hank has what Viktor needs to help him out but Viktor just ignores Hank. A short while later, Hank bequeaths the software program to Viktor that will change his life forever, Simulation One.

Nine months later, the completed movie is released starring the unknown Simone. Unknown to all who view the movie, Simone is a computer-generated image. When Viktor’s next movie comes out starring Simone, she becomes an even bigger star. Viktor is put through all kinds of pressure to let Simone meet her adoring public but how can Victor allow people to know his secret now that he’s on a roll. With a newspaper reporter sniffing around for a story, Victor must lie and come up with ingenious ways of making Simone real to a relentless media, hungry for an exclusive.

One of the interesting concepts of this movie is not just having a dig at the Hollywood system but more on the unnatural amount of publicity a big movie star receives when all they might want to do is just make movies without a fuss. Pacino plays Viktor without much effort, which is just about right for a Pacino comedy role. There are times though when the movie ends up feeling more like a fascinating documentary, giving you an insight of what just might happen. The scenes featuring Simone are a far cry from the days of Max Headroom, with the frightening prospect, at times, of actually caring more for the supposed artificial image than the real actors themselves. With that I will leave you with a quote from Simone that sums it all up nicely, “I am the death of real”.

4 out of 6 stars

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