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View Date: August 31st, 2002

Rating: ($$$ out of $$$$$)


Al Pacino Viktor Taransky
Catherine Keener Elaine Christian
Evan Rachel Wood Lainey Christian
Jason Schwartzman Milton
Winona Ryder Nicola Anders
Pruitt Taylor Vince Max Sayer
Jay Mohr Hal Sinclair
Daniel von Bargen Chief Detective
Rachel Roberts Simone

Written and Directed by:
Mark Romanek 

Related Viewings:
The Truman Show

Official Sites:

Also see my reviews at:


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Go To Reel Rambling Page




“It’s easier to convince 100,000 people, than just one”

One of the biggest musical surprises, not to mention one of my favorite songs, of last year was the song Clint Eastwood by a band called the Gorillaz.  The song itself was an anthem of sorts about someone finding themselves and realizing their worth and potential as a person.  The song was soulful, funky and catchy with a hook for a chorus and a snappy drumbeat that won over critics and had them asking “Who are the Gorillaz”.   Adding to the mix was a unique music video done with all anime representations of the band members.  So just who were they? Well, the Gorillaz, as fleshy group, do not exist.  They are the brainchild of a couple of music producers and musicians (most notably Del the Funky Homosapien) In Simone, Andrew Niccol takes this premise one step further and to the side.  He has created a film and a star that makes a deep social commentary on how quickly and easily that the public will latch onto the “next big thing”.  Held together by yet another amazing performance by the real Al Pacino, Simone will have you taking a second look at those idols that you worship, and the way you do.


“Our ability to create fraud has far surpassed our ability to detect it”

Victor Taransky is a director in the twilight of his career.  Struggling to hold onto his self-respect, his craft, his marriage and his senses.  After being told that he is being released from his studio, Victor encounters a crazed man who provides him with just what he needs to survive.  Victor is given new life through Simone, an actress that exists only on a computer screen, but thanks to modern technology, gives all appearances of actually existing.  From here, the story stumbles through some expected situations, near-misses and such, until it hits stride briefly again and then falls once again in conclusion.  In the current state of things, a virtual movie star would not be unheard of, nor difficult to imagine.  Everything that the film does is possible and the reactions are reflective of a society ready to grab onto the next big thing and ride it out.  The script is rife with sharp one-liners about idol worship and the expeditious nature that celebrities can rise and fall.  It appears that he came up with these first, then built a script and story around them.  This shows through in some transition scenes that lag and a sense of desperation at times, to get from one insightful thought to the next.  The film is still enjoyable, but maybe the impact and depth of the message gets lost or diluted a bit in trying to get all the storylines to work out.  I must admit though that he did kind of get me with the conclusion

Pacino would be fun to watch if he was hawking laundry detergent or breath mints.  His haggard look offsetting the manic nature that is going on inside him is in wonderous form here once again, as he struggles to keep his secret and his sanity.  I’m sure after the intense, emotional performance in Insomnia, Pacino needed a break and Simone is definitely it.  The remainder of the cast is fairly faceless, despite the presence of big name stars.  Keener softens his cold-hearted bitch mode just a tad but is a decent contrast, while Evan Rachel Wood as his daughter does bring a ray of sunshine to things.  Vince and Koteas are representative of what does not work in the film, since they seemingly blend into the background of a movie that has deep messages wrapped in a vainly shallow package.

Ultimately, Simone is an entertaining, occasionally thought provoking slice critique of just how quickly and easily people will grab hold of something and how it can in turn take control of them.  Niccol has always shown a knack for making us question what is real and what isn’t (the best example is of course The Truman Show) and Simone is no different.  Granted, Simone does not come near the impact or fluid nature of Truman, but it touches on some of the same issues.  Do we really become so enamored over something or someone, that are willing to suspend reality and believe the seemingly unbelievable.  Think about it, how often have we justified actions or quirks, because of an emotional attachment or bond of some sort.  In personal relationships as well as in our admiration of heroes, we can be so forgiving of eccentricities that we may even become blind or doubtful of the truth when it is presented to us, whatever form it may take.  With Simone, Niccol has shown why he may be one of the sharpest observers of the human condition, and the effects that questioning reality can have.  While it is far from perfect, as most people are, it is adequate and admirable in its efforts and intentions.  And no, I’m not going to tell you if Simone is indeed real or an actual computer generation, because I wouldn’t want to feed any rumours or speculation.  Just see it for yourself, think for yourself, and make your own decisions.


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