Spoofing the Land of Illusion
Men always seem to long for the perfect woman – and now Hollywood has one! S1MONE, an actress who will never age, never need a retake, never forget her lines -- and who will gush endlessly over the man she’s with. In this case, that man happens to be Academy-award nominated director Viktor Taransky (Al Pacino).
His latest starlet (Winona Ryder) may walk off his picture, and Elaine (Catherine Keener), his former wife and now head of the studio, may cast him off the lot, but Viktor is not writing "the end" to his career as yet. When he views a videotape left him by a deceased computer genius, Viktor finds the perfect solution to his dilemma.
Within weeks he’s shooting a new movie and flaunting Simone, his unknown lead star, like an undiscovered gold mine. And when Simone becomes a "seen only in the media" starlet, a tabloid reporter (Pruitt Taylor Vince) begins a little inquiry that fires Viktor into even more creative genius.
The film is written/directed/produced by Andrew Niccol, a man who knows a thing or two about media perception of screen stars -- witness his intriguing work helming The Truman Show. In Simone, Niccol expertly takes one man’s truth found in a great lie and turns it into a smart and humorous comedy.
As studio execs today are ramming more and more obnoxious reality-based TV shows down our throats, Niccol wisely states, "Reality is grossly overrated." And with reality a theme of his film, it’s a delicious declaration that not only makes much-to-do-about-nothing of Hollywood, but also delivers a statement of its own.
"The big unanswered question in the movie is how his (Viktor’s) secret is perpetuated and that’s what’s interesting," said Pacino. "It allows for a certain ambivalence, which is always fun for an audience to think about."
Viktor takes his star, created at the end of an electrical socket and makes her a perfume mogul, a poet, a pop singer and a philanthropist. But even Viktor can’t help himself when he’s accused of destroying something that doesn’t exist. Pacino plays Viktor with perfection.
"Al brings something subversive to the role of a man who is the advocate of artificial humans," said Niccol. "When such a respected actor says, ‘Who needs actors?’ you take notice."
In addition to its brilliant script, the film is a cinematic delight. "It is a contemporary story shot in a classic style reminiscent of the Golden Age of Hollywood," said Director of Photography Edward Lachman. Designer Valerie Delahayne of the special effects house BUF, Inc. deserves much of the credit for the incredible Simone creation.
One aspect of the film seemed key to me. After Viktor achieves success and redemption, the bottom line is– he still misses his wife and daughter and wants them back. Which tells us, in real life, the reality of Hollywood is very insignificant.
(Released by New Line Cinema and rated "PG-13" for some sensuality.)