Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

With satire, you have to have bite. Sharp teeth help. Being funny is better.

Simone gums you into a false sense of security. Here's a one idea movie, taken to extremes. Instead of Jim Carrey making faces, Al Pacino is the clown. In an attack on the state of the film industry, why not use an icon of the modern screen? No reason, except he doesn't do comedy.

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Viktor Taransky (Pacino) is a serious filmmaker who finds Hollywood increasingly alien. "This is about investment and return," his producer (Catherine Keener) informs him. She's his ex-wife, by the way, but that's a side issue.

On his latest picture, the star (Winona Ryder) fumes about the size of her trailer and what has to be provided, including a nanny ("She doesn't even have a child"). Viktor's had enough of it and fires her. He makes art, while she makes demands. But his art is rubbish and Viktor's washed up until a crazy fan (Elias Koteas) leaves him a unique computer disc in his will. On it is a digital creation, called Simone, a blonde goddess, whose voice and shape can be tweaked and changed at the touch of a keyboard. Despite admitting to his daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) in an earlier scene that he is a Luddite in the techie field, Viktor masters the magic of Simone's computerised existence and she becomes an international acting/singing sensation.

Simone says, "I'm the death of real." Viktor asks, "What's real any more?" In the movies, very little. Writer/director Andrew Niccol makes his point with the subtlety of a Vin Diesel chat up line. Stereotypical situations, such as the dummy's power over the ventriloquist, are re-enacted. Pruitt Taylor Vince, as a tabloid journalist, and Jason Schwartzman, as his goofy photographer, have scope for comic business, which is not taken up.

The satire isn't wild enough and the jokes miscarry. "I think actors talk too much" is a point of view. Whether it should be the subject of a stylish film that runs out of things to say is another matter.

The return on this investment is unlikely to surpass its expectation.

Reviewed on: 24 Oct 2002
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Computer generated actress becomes an international star in satire of modern Hollywood.
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Keith Hennessey Brown **

Director: Andrew Niccol

Writer: Andrew Niccol

Starring: Al Pacino, Catherine Keener, Evan Rachel Wood, Winona Ryder, Jason Schwartzman, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Jay Mohr, Rachel Roberts, Elias Koteas

Year: 2002

Runtime: 117 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


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