Like satire? Meet 'Simone'
By BILLY NORRIS
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 2, 2002
Summary: Viktor Taransky (Al Pacino) is a film director going through a mid career crisis. His last few movies have bombed, and the lead actor for his current project has just quit. But an old acquaintance of his has designed an intricate computer program that can take the place of the actor, and he wills the software to Taransky when he dies. It's called Simulation One, and it creates a digital female that looks and sounds exactly like a human and can be plugged into a movie without anybody realizing "she" is not a real person. This creation, to which Taransky assigns the name Simone, gets him into more trouble than he ever bargained for.
My view: This film is an extremely entertaining satire. At first it seemed kind of strange -- the cinematography incorporated some odd colors and camera angles, and the story was a little different -- but it grew on me. I spent the first half hour or so getting acquainted with this style, but it only got better. From a filmmaking standpoint, this one is a gem. Its offbeat premise was evocative of a Woody Allen movie (Hollywood Ending comes to mind). And I couldn't help but think of The Truman Show, with good reason: It was written by the same person, Andrew Niccol.
[New Line Cinema]
Al Pacino, foreground, plays a director whose career gets a boost from a digital actor in Simone.
Favorite part: Pacino embodied the character with the perfect blend of humor, desperation and craziness. His acting really emphasized the satire.
Recommendations: You have to be able to appreciate satire to appreciate this film. Because of that, Simone will have less of a general appeal to younger audiences. If you enjoyed The Truman Show, you will like this one, too.
-- Billy Norris, 14, is in the ninth grade at Seminole High School and is a former member of the Times X-Team.
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