Al Pacino, Jason Schwartzman, Jay Mohr, Catherine Keener, Pruitt Taylor Vince

Directed by Andrew Niccol
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 0
Community: star rating
5 0 0
August 23, 2002

Synthetic celebrities are nothing new — look at Anna Nicole Smith. But an actor created completely by a computer? Now that's fresh, if you don't count last summer's Final Fantasy, a flop in which digital actors looked...well, digital. Simone doesn't seem fake, but she's software all the same, booted up by an Oscar-winning director, Viktor Taransky (Al Pacino), whose career is going south.Viktor needs to act fast. His flesh-and-blood star Nicola Anders (Winona Ryder in a deliciously nasty cameo) has walked out on his film. He's been fired by a studio head, Elaine (Catherine Keener), who happens to be his ex-wife and the mother of their fourteen-year-old daughter, Lainey (Evan Rachel Wood). So Viktor creates beautiful, blond Simone at his computer console — hair, voice, eyes, the works. He tells the other actors in the film that Simone works alone. They buy it. So does the public: Simone is soon a star. She'll agree to TV interviews, but only on tape. She is not a diva — ask her to do a nude scene, you'll get no argument. Viktor is back on top; that is, until tabloid reporter Max Sayer (Pruitt Taylor Vince) starts snooping around. The joke's on Viktor. Max doesn't think Simone is a hoax; he thinks Viktor has murdered her. Simone has something most summer movies don't: an idea.

Writer-director Andrew Niccol, who spun a similar story about dehumanization in his script for The Truman Show, gets this Hollywood satire off to a rousing start. But the middle flattens, despite Pacino firing on all cylinders. And the end just nose-dives into something silly and, worse, sentimental. The computerized Simone is a marvel, though the techies had help from actress Rachel Roberts (no fair saying how much help). Niccol doesn't just make his point about the death of authenticity in today's Hollywood, he hammers it home until the movie collapses. But give this to the guy: He gets in a few good licks.

Movie Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    • Child of God
      star rating
      Well Go USA Entertainment
    • lucy
      star rating
      Universal Pictures
    • star rating
      IFC Films
    More Reviews »
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “San Francisco Mabel Joy”

    Mickey Newbury | 1969

    A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

    More Song Stories entries »