Main cast: 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), and Rachel Roberts (Simone)
Director: Andrew Niccol
A satire has to bite. It has to know what it making ruthless fun of. Calling Andrew Niccol’s timid S1m0ne a satire is like calling Big Brother an in-depth psychological profile of the human mind. Sure, this movie has Al Pacino, but if it’s crap, it’s still crap.
Mr Pacino plays Viktor Taransky, who inherits a computer program made by his late friend Hank (Elias Koteas) that can allow him to create a digitized movie star of his own. Tired of dealing with prima donnas like Nicola Anders and his ex-wife Elaine, he decides to use Simulation One (Simone for short) as the main star of his movies.
Simone becomes a global obsession, and that’s when Viktor’s troubles begin.
Firstly, let me get this off my chest. Simone a subject of global obsession? Seriously? The Simone in this movie is a dull, lifeless limpid anorexic model-like creature who speaks in a permanently breathless “I’m at the verge of an orgasm” monotone. All her lines are dull, hackneyed lines that sound more at home in daytime shrink TV. Her acting seems to consist of staring at the cinema screen through thick-lidded cow-like bleary gazes, her Barbie girl beauty illuminated in golden auras like the second coming of the Aryan Madonna. Heck, Taransky’s movies seem to be all glowing light and sedated pace, with words like “eternity” being bandied about, it’s like a Kinkadian wet dream come true.
So Simone is a star, huh? And elephants dance the ballet on Broadway tonight.
The script is so lazy, I don’t know where to begin. What is passed off as wit falls flat. The acting is just as flat, except for Evan Rachel Woods’s pretty good portrayal as Taransky’s daughter. But in the end, Taransky doesn’t learn anything. He ditches Simone the way one would ditch a lover after she has outlived her purposes, and he gets everything – fame, the girl, every freaking thing.
It’s okay if this is a satire. But S1m0ne is satirising something that no longer exists. I don’t think people today are so naive as to buy the concept of celebrity idol worship wholesale (well, apart from Justin Timberlake groupies, that is). There is no way someone as devoid of charisma like Simone will command global frenzied devotion in today’s climate of cynicism, unless the vile creatures that are Norma and Della of Touched by an Angel have masterminded a global mindwipe and turned us all into delusional doofies.
So this one is a satire that satirizes nothing. You can call it what you want, but basically this is just gastrointestinal gas from a guy who has proven that he could so much better (Gattaca, for example). Andrew Niccol could only wish that his movie is a parallel to his script. Perhaps this may be it: S1m0ne isn’t a satire but just the director (who is also the scriptwriter) pulling himself off in public and asking people to love him for it.