Simone

 (437)
1 h 57 min2002PG-13
When a temperamental actress walks off the set, director Viktor Taransky is in trouble so he decides to take matters into his own hands -- digitally, that is.
Directors
Andrew Niccol
Starring
Al PacinoCatherine KeenerPruitt Taylor Vince
Genres
Comedy
Subtitles
English [CC]
Audio languages
English
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Supporting actors
Jay MohrEvan Rachel WoodElias KoteasJason Schwartzman
Producers
Andrew Niccol
Studio
New Line
Rating
PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
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Format
Prime Video (streaming online video)
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Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

437 global ratings

  1. 75% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 13% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 6% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 3% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 3% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Greg T.Reviewed in the United States on December 27, 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars
Wonderful, but tried to do too much
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Simone is about a very artistic film director (Pacino) who feels underappreciated toward himself and toward movies, that they should be creative works of art that are created by the visionary director rather than the stars that act in them.
At a low point in his career, Viktor (Pacino) inherits a computer program from a scientist he met at a film conference awhile back. It turns out that this program is the key to everything he's ever wanted in film-making; a completely real looking actress that he can design and control every word and every feeling of in order to shape his movies exactly the way he envisions without the pain of dealing with whiny actors and actresses.
His first movie with her as the lead not only saves his career, but is such a smash hit that the public becomes ravenous for more. Viktor hides her from the public constantly, which only fuels their desire to see her and love for her.
Eventually, things get so out of hand that Viktor decides to get everyone to back off by making Simone unlikable. He stars her in a humiliating film and has her go on a talk show denouncing things people tend to like and endorsing things like "eating dolphin" that most people tend to frown upon. None of these things work, and only serves to give Simone a more multi-dimentional personality that facinates the public.
So then he decides the only way to get rid of her is to "kill" her. This backfires, and he is accused of murdering Simone and covering up the evidence.
In my review, I won't say anything particular about the ending, but all in all, Simone is a very enjoyable movie.
I think it should be noted that probably the real reason this movie wasn't a larger hit with moviegoers lies in a couple very interesting points:
1. It is incorrectly classified as a Comedy first, and a Drama second. It should be the other way around because people going to the movies expecting a flat out comedy would be duly disappointed. It is more of a drama that has funny parts.
2. The movies tries to do "too much" in the way of themes and messages to the audience. At first its about the morality of digital creation and deception, then it becomes about Viktor's obsession with wanting to be recognized, then it's about the creation developing a life of its own. The movie did very well incorporating all of these things together, but did not conclude any of them with any great degree of satisfaction. I think it would've been more successful focusing on just one of the themes and developing it to the fullest.
But aside from all of that, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and think that it never got the attention it deserved. So that is why I write the review and give 5 stars. Very good.
6 people found this helpful
LReviewed in the United States on April 24, 2011
2.0 out of 5 stars
If you want to see real satire, check out Life of Brian. This movie is boring and unimaginative
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I dont understand all the good reviews written about this movie. It was predictable, boring and poorly executed. It just dragged on and on without any high points or wit anywhere.

Viktor (Al Pacino) plays a washed up director whose latest picture is doomed when his star walks out on him. His ex-wife, who also happens to be the head of the studio producing his film, refuses to renew his contract and won't have anything to do with him either. In fact, no one wants anything to do with Viktor and his failures as a movie maker. Even unknown nobodies don't want to work with him.

Then one day an avid fan and brilliant computer programmer gives Viktor a program he created. It is called "Simone" and is a computer program of a tall, blonde, "gorgeous" (we'll get ot the gorgeous part later) interactive "actress". Viktor programs her to play the lead in his movie - since he couldnt get anyone else to do it - and it turns out to be a hit. Everyone is in in awe of this new "talent" and her star keeps rising, even though no one has ever seen her in person and even though she has never shown up to a single movie premiere or promo event. These things are usually in an actor's contract I thought, but neither Viktor is asked about it, nor the studio footing the bill; yeah right, as if a big studio like this would have kept silent when its number one money making star refused to show up to promote the movie.

Anyway, of course now that Viktor's movie is a success, suddenly everyone wants something to do with him again - including his ex wife who cries to Viktor that she wants to come back. Uh hu. I am glad they didnt grab into the clichee tooldbox for this one.

Somewhere here the movie lost me in absurdity. First there was the whole someone-becoming-famous-without-anyone-having-met- them part. Calling that far fetched would be an understatement. Then there is that part about him being loved by everyone now that he was a fiscal success again; that was not only predictable but from an artistic point of view trite and unimaginative.

The huge problem with this movie, however, is the fact that Simone is so popular despite being a computer program no one has ever seen. She even gets nominated for an academy award - all without anyone becoming seriously suspicious. Movies or not, I couldn't buy that. Since this wasn't a fantasy or sci-fi flick, I do expect some resemblance to reality and probable situations.

I understand this movie is supposed to be a farce or satire maybe, making fun of the whole Hollywood superficiality and fame thing, but the way it was done was poor. Something is really funny and a satire if the premise upon which it is based is probable and realistic. Sort of like a Woody Allen movie. But the scenario presented to us here is neither probable nor particularly realistic and hence the comedy, the farce, the satire and with it the message, is lost. I know Hollywood is fake and sells a fantasy, but the whole movie industry mistaking a computer simulation for a real person? And then everyone buying it that as an actor, she is camera shy and that she is an agoraphobic? This takes suspending disbelief to new heights as you have to seriously pretend to be living in a parallel universe for this to be remotely plausible. Somehow it seems like no one alerted the actors, especially Pacino and Keener, that this is supposed to be a farce because everyone plays their part seriously. There is just a disconnect here.

I admit there were funny moments somewhat towards the end when Simone commits many PR crimes and still is loved and how pathetic all the reporters and talk show hosts and generally all the people in the industry and the fans are who keep worshipping someone based on a role they played in a movie - even though as a human being they do not have many redeeming qualities. That was funny and very true about Hollywood. But overall I must say the movie did more of a bad job than a good one.

If they wanted to poke fun at the mindless and fanatical celebrity followers and their zealotry and hypocrisy, they should have gone about it a different way. This movie sort of reminded me a bit of [[ASIN:B000VE439Y Monty Python's Life Of Brian - The Immaculate Edition|Life of Brian]] where this kid is mistaken for the messiah and everyone interprets all of his actions, even trivial ones, as divine providence with deep meaning. Now that is a great satire and it is funny because everyone understands that it is a satire. "Simone" feels like it is lacking that direction, that spunk, as you keep wondering if this is supposed to be a comedy, a satire or serious.

And finally, Simone, played by Rachel Roberts, was neither beautiful nor the stuff of legends. She was lacking something and I think if they were going to make her into the second coming of The Garbo, they should have also picked an appropriate actress, not this washed up tub of plain yogurt. I doubt most people in the audience could identify with the awe Simone was supposedly inspiring. That just added to the lack of plausibility, originality and believability which has been plaguing this movie from the start on.
4 people found this helpful
D. J. ZabriskieReviewed in the United States on March 26, 2005
4.0 out of 5 stars
Viscoulsly Funny, but...
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This movie is a lot better than most critics thought at the time of its relaese. Unfortunately, it runs out of gas just as it should be peaking. What elevates it is its merciless satire of American pop culture driven by mass-media communications and computer technology which has approached the levels of the miraculous.

Al Pacino plays Victor Taransky, a Hollywood director in a tailspin until a series of accidents lead him to create the world's first

"virtual" movie star, Simone. Although no one has ever seen "the real Simone (the movie's original title, by the way), she is so flawless, so beautiful, so ideal in every way, that everybody wants her. The movie uses this contradiction and frustration of expectations to mercilessly skewer the masses' will to believe an appealing fantasy, regardless of its being "too good to be true," in scene after scene for nearly two-thirds of the picture. There is a rising level of satirical hilarity during that time that no Hollywood movie since "Dr. Strangelove" has approached.

Al Pacino devours this role like a starving man let loose in an Italian deli. He always hits just the right note with just the right inflection, and his timing is impeccable. It's too bad that the character of Victor Taransky owes more to Pacino's wonderful performance than what's in the script.

What defeats this film from achieving true greatness is the fact that it is, after all, a one-joke comedy. Even as brilliant as it is (and it is brilliant), that joke eventually runs out of momentum. Finally, after sustaining its tough-as-nails cynicism for most of its running time, it finds its heart, which deflates it pretty quickly. Things are not helped by the fact that most of the dramatis personae are really caricatures, rather than characters, who rely on brilliant performances by a fine ensemble cast, rather than a brilliant script to flesh them out. So, when Victor and his scam are finally exposed, it is neither tragic nor funny, but merely sad.

Nevertheles, for two-thirds of its running time, this movie will have laughing hysterically, not at the characters, but at ourselves. Watching Pacino lip-synching "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman" at Simone's concert premiere as a pop diva is one of the most deliciously whacky and FUNNY scenes to come out of a Hollywood movie in decades!
5 people found this helpful
PhotoscribeReviewed in the United States on December 18, 2007
4.0 out of 5 stars
So much more could have been done with this....
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While beautifully photographed and decently acted, you get the feeling that "S1m0ne" is right on the cusp of something really swift, but loses its compass heading just before this "thing" pops up.

What we have here is essentially "Maxine Headroom", a computer generated character serving as a media alter ego for someone in ratings or ticket-sale purgatory. In the case of "S1m0ne", it DEFINITELY helps the poor, sad sack character, played by Al "Too Intense For Words" Pacino, who here is untypically mellow for just about the entire picture. Pacino takes the unexpected present, (from an old colleague,) of "Simulation One" and turns her into the biggest cash cow since Mickey Mouse! Without anyone ever having seen her in the flesh, "S1m0ne" becomes as big as Julia Roberts and Sharon Stone put together in digitally edited movies. Everything she burps is considered sacred and profound and Pacino even manages to stage a holographic concert, which probably satisfies the virtual guessers in the cast to some degree. However, two reporters are obsessed with both S1m0ne and her Paul Winchell, (Pacino's character Viktor Taransky,) and after Viktor gets sick and tired of his creation getting all the kudos while all he does is speak through her, and he decides to kill off S1m0ne, these two try and expose him as a murderer.

I'm not going to ruin the ending for you, but suffice it to say that it's a good thing that Taransky took time out to have a family on his way through Hollywood!

Done before, and maybe redone a little better, and a DEFINITE change of pace for Pacino.
3 people found this helpful
Edward S. BrownReviewed in the United States on August 3, 2009
4.0 out of 5 stars
The Charisma of Simone
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"Simone" is "A Thinking Person's" movie. It's one of those "would if" movies where the concept trumps the acting and cinematography. Would if you could digitally produce a musician, athlete or actor for the pure purpose of entertaining a population and didn't have to worry about prima donnas, excessive salaries and bloated budgets? What if, for the first time, a bona fide celebrity could be created from the dark recesses of a computer and appear more real than the latest phenom? From the election of the President to the latest fad, "Simone" shows how far society has come in creating illusions that people not only buy into, but relish as a way of life better than reality. There is philosophical subtext throughout "Simone" commenting on how far we've devolved as a society without being sermonic. However, what initially was a moral dilemma becomes an acceptance of the world "as is." In the end, the audience is left with the option of fighting an uphill battle over reality or surrendering by adapting to the environment of illusion. Darwin said that the person best able to adapt to an environment would thrive.

"Simone" is a comedy, but the concept is strikingly real.

Edward Brown
Core Edge Image & Charisma Institute
[...]
4 people found this helpful
Robert CarlbergReviewed in the United States on October 12, 2005
4.0 out of 5 stars
Whose Ox is Gored?
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This movie surprised me quite a bit, because it is so cynical of the motion picture industry and the cult of celebrity worship. The idea that a gullible public would fall in love with an electronic avatar, and could be manipulated so shamelessly seemed just a little far-fetched -- until you consider Hollywood.

With its airbrushed and nip-tucked actors & actresses being hawked continuously by "celebrity TV" and "celebrity magazines," now we even have celebrities who are famous simply for being famous. Going to parties, shopping in trendy stores and other trappings of fame has become synonymous with actually BEING famous, and apparently if you have enough money you can buy public adoration through the graces of the greedy celebrity industry. America hungers for heroes -- or people who spend like them.

So it's NO WONDER that the movie industry (which includes the studios, actors, agents, publicists, press and distributors) has turned a cold shoulder to this film. It may be just a little bit too close to home.
6 people found this helpful
D. DaltonReviewed in the United States on November 1, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Al Pacino- excellent as usual
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"Simone" is a very entertaining movie with Al Pacino leading the way. You can enjoy this more if you don't get hung up on the unreal computer technology involved in the plot...just use your imagination. There is a good amount of social commentary within the film that is very visible in our society, not only in the entertainment realm but also in the political one (I won't comment specifically). Don't take "Simone" too seriously- just enjoy.
2 people found this helpful
R. PetroskyReviewed in the United States on May 31, 2013
5.0 out of 5 stars
Simone
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This very entertaining and intelligent movie is a wonderful allegory about how people seem to have a need to invest otherwise ordinary human beings with all of their hopes and dreams, even when those human beings are fakes and poseurs. Simone is our politicians, our entertainers, our religious leaders, and others we make into demigods. It goes well beyond pop culture and speaks to that latent herd mentality of humanity, that ancient part of the human brain that Carl Sagan referred to in the Dragons of Eden. This movie is one of Pacino's best and he should be congratulated for being part of it. If you just want to be entertained and not asked to be involved in a "message" then this movie is probably not for you. If you'd like a wonderful magic mirror held up so you can see the best and worst of humanity buy it or rent it.
One person found this helpful
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