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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Simone (2002)



Reviews and Comments

Writer-director Andrew Niccol has a real gift for triumphant stories about humanity prevailing in dehumanizing times. Previously, he wrote The Truman Show and wrote and directed Gattaca, two very different films with essentially the same message.

Simone is a film about a Hollywood director, at the bottom of his career, who secretly inherits the technology to insert a digital actress into his films and pass her off as the real thing. This is perfect material for Niccol, who could have written a beautiful satire of Hollywood that would broach questions about what makes us human and what it is in humanity that makes us value or idolize others. He could have, but did not. Simone is surprisingly superficial. It tells about the director's secret creation, the public's embracing of it, and the gradual harmful impact it has on his life. Unfortunately it's not very convincing. There is a time when he decides to destroy Simone, for example, but his motives seem much more the motives of a movie character and not an actual one. Personally, I don't think being in possession and control of a digital actress would affect me on such a deeply psychological level. On the other hand, I can certainly envision a movie that paints such a psychological arc in a compelling manner. It's just not this one.

All the same, I enjoyed the movie on a superficial level. There are some funny moments, some attractive cinematography, and a story that marries two of my favorite subjects: computers and movies. Of course, the computers in this movie don't work the way computers work, and I don't think movies work this way either. But the film's handling of both get the point across, so it works.