In 16th century Venice, when a merchant must default on a large loan from an abused Jewish moneylender for a friend with romantic ambitions, the bitterly vengeful creditor demands a gruesome payment instead.
It's a hot summer day in 1933 in South Philly, where 12-year old Gennaro lives with his widowed mom and his ailing grandpa, who sits outside holding tight to his last quarter, which he's ... See full summary »
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio,
On the day that a serial killer that he helped put away is supposed to be executed, a noted forensic psychologist and college professor receives a call informing him that he has 88 minutes left to live.
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
In the theatrical version, Rachel Roberts is uncredited. Closing credits include "Introducing Simone as herself" and the credits list Simone as played by "herself". However, she is included in the "Simone wishes to thank the following for their contribution to the making of Simone" section. See more »
The cult of celebrity is brilliantly examined in Andrew Niccol's `Simone.' Al Pacino plays a washed-up `art film' director who is fed up with the spoiled leading ladies with whom he has to work. After his latest leading lady (Winona Ryder in an excellent performance) walks out before the end of production, Pacino is left with an unreleasable film. He is approached by an adoring fan, a `computer geek' dying from cancer, who offers him a solution to his difficulties. Pacino rejects the offer, but the geek sends him a computer disk containing `Simulation One.' When Pacino activates the disk, up pops a stunningly beautiful female,' who is a programmable simulation. Pacino adds personality ingredients from famous actresses of the past, and, viola, `Simone' is created.
Inserting Simone's image and voice into Ryder's footage, Pacino completes his film. However, Pacino's work is overshadowed by his creation. Simone becomes a world famous celebrity, a cult goddess.
Combining the cult celebrity of Garbo, Princess Di, Farrah Fawcett and Pamela Anderson, with maybe a little Britney Spears thrown in, Andrew Niccol has created a sharp satire of hero worship. Lacking an ego, Simone is the projection of everyone's desires; men want her and women want to be like her. Even more fascinating is Pacino's revelation that he is jealous of his creation, even when he has no need to be. Niccol sustains his sharp satire of celebrity until the very end of the movie.
Where `Simone' stumbles is its flat romance between Pacino and his former wife, Christine Keener. I'm sorry, but for me Keener lacks anything resembling sex appeal. Had this role been given to Kim Basinger, Rita Wilson, Cybil Shepherd, Ellen Barkin or Lauren Hutton, the `younger beauty/aging beauty pathos could have been examined. As it stands, `Simone' lacks the kind of conflict which could have given it real spark. Nonetheless, `Simone' is a fun, funny movie and is definitely worth seeing. I give `Simone' a `7'.
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