Hi 92 / Lo 76
|Volume 68, Issue 1, Monday,
August 26, 2002
Arts & Entertainment
'Simone' entertains as Pacino continues to flaunt his talent
By Ray Hafner
The irony of the new movie Simone, in which a director enlists the help
of a virtual actress on his new film, is that only a flesh-and-blood actor
In Andrew Niccol's comedy Simone, Al Pacino (left) plays Viktor Taransky, a director who digitally creates the ideal leading lady, Simone (Rachel
Pacino clearly relishes the role of Viktor Taransky, an Academy Award-winning director on the verge of washing out. The movie is filled with
monologues about film, actors and reality, which Pacino serves up on a platter. Even his dialogues with the computer-generated Simone turn
into monologues with him playing both parts.
For anyone who might doubt it, viewed alongside his earlier performance
as Will Dormer in Insomnia, it's clear that Pacino is one of the greatest
The film opens with Taransky busily removing all the red Mike &
Ikes from a candy dish to keep his incorrigible star Nicola Anders (Winona
Enter Hank. Hank has developed a computer code capable of producing
believable virtual actors: "vactors." Unfortunately for Hank, the years
In just nine months Taransky manages to cut Nicola out and paste Simone
in. Simone is a versatile actress, with every actress of note digitally
Pacino's designing and interacting with Simone are the funniest moments of the film.
That is, no doubt, thanks to writer and director Andrew Niccol. His
previous work, writing and directing Gattaca — along with penning the equally
Before long, Simone is the biggest sensation on the planet, and is more
real than the man who created her. The cover stories on a dozen
This hyper real frenzy spurs Taransky to create even more Simone. By
adding a slice of Whitney Houston you've got a record deal. Give her a
Niccol's satire leaves no Entertainment Tonight correspondent untouched and every aspect of modern culture gets its hair mussed.
The script gives all the actors involved plenty to work with, including
Catherine Keener, also at the top of her game, and Jay Mohr as a pretty
Try to guess if Simone is an unknown actress or really computer-generated. It's harder than you would think.
It can't be stressed enough how good Pacino is, not just here, but in everything.
His character's transformation, mirrored at first in Simone's rise, is brilliant and Taransky's rants at the end fit perfectly.
Pacino appears to be seeking out the best new directors like Niccol and Insomnia's talented Christopher Nolan.
As long as they can keep getting performances like this out of real actors, no virtual Simones will ever be needed.
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