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Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio,
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The career of a disillusioned producer, who is desperate for a hit, is endangered when his star walks off the film set. Forced to think fast, the producer decides to digitally create an actress "Simone" to sub for the star--the first totally believable synthetic actress. The "actress" becomes an overnight sensation, with a major singing career as well, and everyone thinks she's a real person. However, as Simone's fame skyrockets, he cannot bear to admit his fraud to himself or the world. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
SIMONE written and directed by Andrew McNichol who also wrote THE TRUMAN SHOW, which in the opinion of this writer was one of the best films of 1998, opened this week starring incomparable Al Pacino.
THE TRUMAN SHOW was a brilliant send up of television and those of us who will watch whatever is on. SIMONE does the same for movies and Hollywood. It will certainly make my list of the Ten Best Films of 2002. Put quiet simply McNichol has once again hit one out of the park.
SIMONE is a beautiful actress that is made up of pixels. A series ones and zeros put together in a computer and placed into the film. Even her name is an abbreviation for the computer program that has made her possible: Simulation One.
When Hollywood diva Wynona Ryder walks off director Viktor Taransky's (Pacino) film unfinished for nothing but silly reasons, his career is finally in the dumpster. He is offered salvation when a computer whiz, played in a fabulous cameo turn by Elias Koteas, offers him the solution.
Taransky with the aid of the computer creates SIMONE the perfect actress. She doesn't talk back, does what she's told and doesn't make trouble. Made up from parts of the very best that Hollywood has to offer she is breathtakingly beautiful. She becomes bigger than life itself which McNicholl cleverly shows by placing Simone's picture on the sides of three story buildings and has Pacino or other mortals walk by in front the portraits. As an actress Simone is less than brilliant, but no one seems to notice. In fact, that is the point, nothing this woman does is wrong. The public as McNicholl's character Christoff in the TRUMAN SHOW says `accepts whatever Universe that is presented to them as real.'
McNichol tell us in both SIMONE and TRUMAN SHOW that people believe what they want to believe; what they feel comfortable believing. SIMONE says that your eyes will lie to you. That what you see is only true if that is what you want it to be. It is a warning to a complacent society to be on guard. The media is capable of creating their reality, one that will make us happy, warm and fuzzy, in order to control what we see, think and feel. That they in fact all ready do this through advertisement and slanted, controlled news. It warns us not to blindly trust what we are shown by the media. SIMONE reminds us of elements in WAG THE DOG where a fictious war is created and since it is shown on TV we will believe it.
SIMONE is both hilarious and thought provoking. Pacino's performance as the washed up film director takes on a rather Dr. Frankenstein feel when his creation becomes uncontrollable, not for what she does but for the way that the public reacts to her. After she becomes big he can't admit to the fraud because no believes him and he can't kill her off because the public refuses to let her die. Pacino is brilliant. You cannot go wrong with this one, it's a winner.
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