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Simone - Movie Review

by Aaron Schmookler (Age: 40)
copyright 02-05-2003

Age Rating: 13 +
Simone - Movie Review

The film, Simone, started out ahead of the pack with writer/director Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, The Truman Show), Al Pacino (Godfather, Scent of a Woman), Catherine Keener (Being John Malcovitch), and a terrific concept. A great writer/director, a great cast, a concept designed to test the limits of P.T. Barnum’s assertion that, “There’s a sucker born every minute,” – What could possibly go wrong?

I’m not generally one to synopsize the plot in a review, but indulge me, please, a moment. Viktor Taransky (Al Pacino) is a director of little critical acclaim who is in it for the art. When his latest film loses its female lead, he needs someone to replace her, but he’s fed up with the phony, demanding Hollywood starlets. Luckily, a technology falls into his lap that allows him to finish his film with a convincing computer mock-up of a woman – Simone, an amalgamation of every great actress to grace the silver screen whose only limitation is that she does not physically exist. So the deception begins as the world believes her to be an actress of flesh and blood. In an instant, she becomes the greatest sensation the world has ever known, enjoying more fame and adulation than any actress in history. Taransky cranks his circus of deception into high gear in order to keep the accolades coming.

This is a great concept, rife with dramatic potential. The execution, however, falls flat. Al Pacino is no less competent than usual. Catherine Keener does as well as ever with the material she’s given. But this is exactly the problem; the material is awful. The dialogue is boring and strained. Even the romantic and sexual tensions, which Hollywood can generally be counted on to deliver with skin tingling vivacity, are unbelievable and plastic. The plot has gaping holes that cut at the cables of belief’s suspension. The dramatic dénouement, the culmination of the so-called tensions built throughout the film, hinges on a plot twist which defies even the most credulous among us to bite back the “Oh, come on!” that is trying to escape our lips.

Perhaps the flaw that tests the audience’s patience the most is the performance of Simone. We are to believe that this artificial woman earns the adoration of the public through her unparalleled beauty and her exceptional acting talent. She is beautiful, but not as beautiful as Nicola Anders (Winona Ryder), the actress she was created to replace, and her acting, far from inspired, is flat, boring, wooden – in a word, atrocious.

To add insult to injury, the creators of this film have tried a cutsey conceit to further the “illusion” of the film. The credits claim that Simone is played by “herself” as a feat of computer animation when in fact, she is played by a real person, Rachel Roberts. Without a doubt, this was the worst movie that I’ve sat all the way through in a very long time.

Run, don’t walk, AWAY from Simone.

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