Viktor Taransky is a director battling with obsolescence. He won two Academy Award nominations, albeit for short films, but all his latter work bombed. Taransky's (Al Pacino, Insomnia, Any Given Sunday). His new project, Eternity Forever, is destined for limbo due to prima donna actress Nicola Anders' (an uncredited Winona Ryder, Mr. Deeds, Zoolander) exit. Anders is one of the hottest actors in Hollywood, but she is so shallow that she quits when she discovers her trailer is not the tallest on the lot. Now, Taransky has an unfinished movie with no star. He is in big trouble, until he meets a kooky inventor (an uncredited Elias Koteas, Novocaine, Harrison's Flowers) who created a computer program that can create a virtual actor. Taransky realizes the potential, and creates Simone, short for Simulation One, and completes Eternity Forever. Simone is a combination of many women. Taransky chooses the qualities he thinks that people find desirable, and combines them to create this synthespian.
So begins Simone, the latest film from writer/director Andrew Niccol, who toyed with similar ideas in films like The Truman Show and Gattaca. Simone is Niccol's take on the over-glamorization of Hollywood stars. It is a valid thing to look at, since the technology exists to produces completely computer-generated actors. It is part satire and part farce, with neither aspect convincing. Is he trying to be witty or funny or both? Hard to say. What Simone ends up as is a mish-mash of a film, presenting some potentially interesting ideas that never fully develop. Taransky believes that anybody can spot Simone, and is prepared to come clean at the premiere. However, nobody notices and instead falls in love with this mysterious actor. Taransky quickly decides to make another film with Simone, while her adoring fans grow every day. In order to fool everybody, Taransky says that Simone hates publicity and wants the work to speak for itself. She doesn't like working with other actors and instead will work alone in front of a blue screen. She is also shy, so she avoids contact with the press. Everybody eats it up, and her cult of fans grows further.
The main reason that Simone never grips the viewer like Niccol wants it to is because Simone herself is not that interesting. Sure she looks stunning (Canadian model Rachel Roberts played her), but the clips that Niccol shows of her don't do her justice. It is hard to believe that Simone (or anybody for that matter) can become so famous in such a short amount of time, and insulting to believe that nobody figures out the fact that she is fake, especially since Niccol went out of his way to add in CGI effects to make the Simone character look a little more artificial. Taransky's ex-wife Elaine (Catherine Keener, Lovely & Amazing, Full Frontal) is the head of Amalgamated Studios (get it?) and wants to meet Simone, but Taransky never allows her to. Simone is Taransky's (or any director's) dream; an actor under the complete artistic control of the director. She will do anything he wants and never complain. Taransky soon discovers that, although she is fake, Simone is beginning to take on a life of her own, and nothing he can do can stop her. Niccol conveys this by having Pacino sit in front of a monitor and acting frustrated. He speaks into the microphone and Simone speaks back to him. Not very convincing. The more popular Simone becomes, the more paranoid Taransky becomes, and the movie as well as his sanity begins to lose any sense of cohesion. Niccol takes his idea much too far, and in the end, Simone itself ends up as a joke.
|Haro Rates It: Not That Good.|
|1 hour, 57 minutes, Rated PG-13 for some sensuality.|
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