Kim Van Syoc
College Times and Kim Van Syoc (College Times)


With the distinction between authentic and artificial already blurred, we now get a film about a synthetic woman – as if the women of this world haven’t lost enough of their actuality already.

Surprisingly, however, “Simone,” the third film by reality suspending writer/director Andrew Niccol (his previous works include “Gattaca” and “The Truman Show”) incorporates just enough real stuff to keep this film believable.

Al Pacino stars as Viktor Teransky, a failed movie director who pines for the days of old Hollywood, where the directors directed and the actors took direction.

Unable to finish his current film and faced with being black-balled from the who’s who list of Hollywood directors, Viktor parts with his movie’s over-priced, over-pampered, prima donna (Winona Ryder) and gives birth – via binary code – to the first totally believable synthetic actress, Simone.

Simone becomes an international household name (step aside J. Lo) and gives Viktor the chance of gaining back his reputation. He’s not only found a way to replace difficult, demanding and disrespecting actors, but also a way to prove to society that it’s not the person that we worship. It’s the persona.

Swept up in success and bombarded by the media, Viktor finds himself in a difficult situation: How do you keep the most popular woman in the world a secret?

It’s this exact dilemma that makes the movie initially entertaining.

The best comedy, however, comes in the parody on Hollywood life and its actors. Now I know it’s never nice to make fun of someone’s idiosyncrasies, especially those of the rich and famous, but it’s so hard not to laugh when it’s done this well.

Niccol does a fabulous job of picking apart the insecurities of the characters and displaying them for all to see. Ryder’s character has a small yet brilliant moment where she begs Viktor to reconsider her for a part in his film (post Simone craze) as she claims to be a new woman, she’s fired all her people, taken acting lessons and even checked herself into rehab.

It’s the little joys like clever dialogue and tender truths that add humor to a film that as first seems destined to be shallow.

And despite the movie’s lack of thought provoking or heart tugging moments, it’s worth a look if a good laugh and a well assembled cast is what you seek.