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S1M0NE (2002)

Simone

A star is... created.

Directed by:

Andrew Niccol

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 117 minutes

UK Certificate: PG

On DVD

Country: United States

“Our ability to manufacture fraud now exceeds our ability to detect it”, muses a pleased-with-himself Viktor Taransky, the movie director played here with entirely predictable aplomb by Al Pacino. For Taransky, right down to his first name, is something of a Frankenstein for the CGI age. He’s just given the world Simone, supposedly one of the biggest Hollywood icons of the modern era – and she’s not even real.

‘S1m0ne’ is, sporadically, a very funny satire of Hollywood, the media, and the often completely irrational nature of fan culture. Taransky is fed up with the ridiculous demands of movie stars, from squabbling over who has the biggest trailer to commanding him to pick all the pink ones out of a bag of jelly-beans. So, using a computer programme left to him in the will of a crackpot scientist, he creates a leading lady of his own (Rachel Roberts). She expects no wages, needs no make-up, never complains about “creative differences”, has no qualms about taking her clothes off – and public and critics alike absolutely adore her. The trouble is, keeping her less-than-authentic status a secret gradually becomes more and more difficult for our Vik.

Penned, produced and directed by ‘The Truman Show’ and ‘Gattaca’ writer Andrew Niccol, Simone is almost like a Truman in reverse. While ‘The Truman Show’ gave us a man fooled by his artificial world, in ‘S1m0ne’ it’s everyone else in the world who’s being fooled by an artificial woman.

Unfortunately, the more you think about the plot, the less sense it makes. Viktor claims to be useless with computers, yet becomes remarkably proficient with what must be an incredibly complicated programme, all in a fairly short space of time. Similarly, Simone’s rip-roaring global success doesn’t quite ring true, considering it arrives before she’s even made a second film. There’s also a disappointingly upbeat ending, which fits uncomfortably with the tone of the rest of the movie. An opportunity to finish the film in a much darker way is made very apparent, only to be taken away again almost as if Niccol chickened out at the last minute.

But, for all that, I found ‘S1m0ne’ an enjoyable movie, predominantly for its tongue-in-cheek approach and, of course, the presence of the marvellous Pacino. Take it with a fair helping of sodium chloride, and you shouldn’t be too let down.

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It's Got: Winona Ryder sending herself up as a stroppy A-list diva.

It Needs: To take more risks.

DVD Extras ‘Cyber Stardom’ and ‘Simulating S1m0ne’ featurettes, some interesting deleted and alternate scenes, and a couple of trailers. DVD Extras Rating: 6/10

Alternatives:

Gattaca, The Truman Show, Weird Science

Summary

Funny and fascinating, but pot-holed with missed opportunities.

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